Dear Dr. Crapo: Ten years ago I saw a hygienist who got me to brush and floss. I floss and brush twice a day and I did that for three years without hardly a miss. I didn't go to the dentist because I felt I was cleaning very well and wasn't building any stain or tartar. Then seven years ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. When I'm in acute care my brushing and flossing go out the window, but when I'm myself again I resume my regular brushing and flossing. Last week, after seven years of on-and-off-again surgery and cancer treatments, I went to the dentist and had the hygienist clean my teeth. It was a startling revelation. I could not believe the smell as she cleaned my teeth. My mouth smelled worse than a barn. I almost threw up. The hygienist said it was tartar under my gums that she was removing. I had no idea. My gums don't bleed when I floss and brush and yet she said they were infected, that's the reason for the smell. She also said that although we don't feel it the disease, little by little it can destroy the gum and bone around the teeth, making them loose. I'm still in shock. How can I prevent this from happening again?
Periodontal disease (disease of the gums and bone around the teeth) is not painful and thus calls little attention to itself. It is very destructive, because it is an infection of the skin and bone around your teeth. As such, the skin cells die and turn into pus. The startling thing is that this pus may lay deep under the skin around the roots of your teeth.
The point is that you could be flossing and brushing, but unless you follow a very specific method that gets under the gums, you could have pus developing without your knowledge. The reason for the smell is that like a rotting carcass you're smelling protein breakdown. These strong smells are sulphur compounds that smell like death – like a barn – yes, they're awful.
Ten years is a long time to go without a dental check-up, so your gums and teeth should be carefully cleaned, and new flossing and brushing techniques with the use of a bacteriocidal toothpaste and rinse employed. In three months you should go back to ensure the new techniques with bacteriocidal toothpaste and mouth rinse are getting good results. I like Oxyfresh as a bacteriocidal (unfortunately not available commercially) because it kills bacteria like nothing else. Listerine is water in comparison.
With Oxyfresh you'll not only have sweet breath and no pus, but sweet dreams as well.
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