Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Healthy Habits: Back to School With Fresh Breath

Your child’s health includes oral health as well.  With a new school year coming up, let’s take a look at snacks and how they affect oral health as well as overall health.

First of all, by this time, we all know that sugar and good health are at cross purposes.  Child obesity is increasing and so is evidence of higher rates of diabetes in children.  So sugary snacks are a no-no. 

So, tip number 1 is to make sure parents read the ingredients in snacks we give to our kids.  We all know how to spell sugar, but you’ll need to look for euphemisms that may appear, such as high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, etc.  But, sugar substitutes can also be problematic.  Chemicals such as saccharin and aspartame are frowned upon for children by many nutritionists.  One sugar substitute that is actually good for you is Xylitol, which comes from the bark of the white birch tree. It has been shown to provide anti-decay benefits.

I highly recommend fruits which contain a lot of liquids. That includes berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries).  Your mouth needs to maintain its moisture and these types of fruits provide this benefit beautifully. 

On the other hand, I cannot recommend citrus fruits as much as the berries. This is because of the high acid content in fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, etc.

Acids literally corrode tooth enamel.  We know that sugar is bad for oral health because sugar (and other carbohydrates) is digested by the Strep mutans bacteria and the by-product is lactic acid.  It’s the acid that causes cavities.  

So, if we’re trying to avoid oral acids, it would make more sense to avoid acids in general.

Another snack food that should be avoided is fruit juice.  This is merely highly concentrated acid liquid which is high in sugar and is very acidic. 

Sticky fruit snacks are a problem. Even healthier fruits contain sugar (fructose). If left stuck in the nooks and crannies of the teeth, the oral bacteria have copious amounts of time to break down the sugar to create lactic acid.  Foods in this category are raisins, fruit roll ups, fruit bark, etc.

So, what’s left? I highly recommend drinking water.  It’s a great way to help replenish healthy saliva, which is the liquid that keeps your mouth in balance.

Cut up vegetables are great, including celery (contains lots of water), carrots, and jicama.

Bad Breath Bullying

When I first started treating patients for bad breath in 1994, I assumed that most of those patients would be older people or maybe even teens (similar to my 13 year old daughter, whose bad breath lead me to eventually create the TheraBreath brand of oral care products).

However, in 1995, a young mother brought in hear 5 year old son for evaluation.  My first though was, how could this cute Vietnamese immigrant boy (wearing a cowboy hat) have an issue with bad breath?

Well, according to his mother, his classmates started to give him the nickname “Stinky”.  His mother was very upset because this bullying was making her son reluctant to go to school.

I want to add that in my clinics, I have helped tens of thousands of patients.  During the medical history, a significant portion of those people reported similar stories of being nicknamed some unprintable names.  And in a few cases, this bullying continued into adulthood.

So, what was the issue with 5 year old?  First of all, more than half of the population is lactose intolerant. When someone with this condition drinks milk or eats ice cream a chemical reaction takes place in the mouth between the dairy proteins and the sulfur producing bacteria that normally live on the back of the tongue or in the tonsils and throat.  His mother, hoping to make her son a good “American child”, make sure to give him plenty of milk and ice cream. This was a big mistake and I told her to look for lactose free alternatives.

Secondly, she was providing him strong alcohol-based mouthwash and strong toothpaste. Another mistake:  Alcohol makes the mouth more dry, which is an environment loved by sulfur-producing bacteria. Additionally, most toothpaste, including children’s toothpaste contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, a harsh detergent used to create foaming activity.

I gave his mother some of our non-alcohol TheraBreath Oral Rinse and our detergent free TheraBreath Toothpaste and within 10 days, he had no oral malodor at all.  The name calling and bullying stopped!

We now offer at Walmart stores and on Amazon a healthy kids mouthwash, known as TheraBreath for Kids Oral Rinse, which Does not contain any artificial colors, flavors, or alcohol.

Dr. Harold Katz (www.therabreath.com/), developer of TheraBreath for Kids Oral Rinse, received his degree in bacteriology from UCLA and is the founder of The California Breath Clinics and author of “The Bad Breath Bible.” He has been featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CBS’s “Early Show” and “The View” with Barbara Walters and countless other TV shows. Dr. Katz has developed oxygenating compounds that have been used by millions around the world to eliminate bad breath. He is also the bearer of the now famous “Halimeter,” which tests the sulfur compounds in the mouth that cause bad breath. Dr. Katz’ website offers a free online bad breath test – as well as a sneaky way to tell someone they have halitosis.

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