Tonsils and Bad Breath
|By Dr. Harold Katz - Bad Breath Expert|
Chronic bad breath is no joke. It can leave you feeling socially isolated which can lead to depression. It can effectively cut off chances for professional advancement, especially if your job is one that requires you to deal with the public on a regular basis. Millions of people suffer from persistent bad breath that defies their efforts to control it.
What causes bad breath? Anaerobic bacteria on the teeth, gums and grooves of the tongue cause it. The bacteria feed on food particles that remain in the mouth after eating. They produce metabolites with high concentrations of foul-smelling polyamines and sulfur compounds.
Regular brushing, flossing and lingual cleansing will ensure fresh breath for a large number of people, but not every case of bad breath originates at the front of the mouth.
Structures further back in the throat can also be a source of chronic bad breath, particularly those lymphatic tissues known as the palatine and nasopharyngeal tonsils. The tonsils are such a persistent source of infection that many people in the U.S. have had their tonsils removed by the end of childhood. Yet even after a tonsillectomy, some tissue remains that can become a bacterial breeding ground for microorganisms that cause bad breath.
Tonsil infections that lead to chronic bad breath are most often due to tonsil stones. As frequent as tonsil stones are, many dentists and physicians miss them completely when their patients complain of halitosis.
How Tonsil Stones Cause Bad Breath
The tonsils play a role in protecting the body against foreign particles that are inhaled or ingested. They're small pieces of tissue whose surfaces are covered with deep crevices called crypts. These pockets form a natural trap for food particles, dead epithelial cells and mucous secretions that the body recognizes as foreign substances, thereby initiating an immune response that mobilizes white blood cells to the area. The white blood cells add to the debris.
Over time, the debris calcifies into foul-smelling clumps called tonsilloliths or tonsil stones. Tonsil stones are a primary cause of persistent bad breath. Other tonsil stone symptoms may include coughing spasms, an unpleasant, choking sensation and a constant metallic taste in the mouth. Approximately 10 percent of all people with intact tonsils will suffer from a tonsil stone at some point in their lives.
Tonsil stones are found more often in people who suffer chronically from post nasal drip. Post nasal drip is most often caused by viruses and allergies. Medical treatment may be powerless to control it. While it may feel to you as though your body is producing too much mucus, in actuality the problem is that your body is producing a very concentrated mucus that is too thick to cough up effectively. This mucus drips down in the back of your throat, coating your tonsils and any existing tonsil stones in a gelatinous substance that odor-causing bacteria love.
Treating Bad Breath due to Tonsil Stones
Brushing, flossing and other oral hygiene measures will do little to nothing to prevent the bad breath associated with tonsil stones. Most common mouthwashes, breath mints and other commercial products may mask this type of halitosis temporarily, but in the long run may actually exacerbate bad breath since they have a mouth-drying effect.
There are many treatments for tonsil stones. These range from oral irrigation to curettage to tonsillectomy, an extremely unpleasant operation when performed on an adult. Preventing the formation of tonsil stones in the first place is a far better step than eliminating them once they've actually formed.
The bacteria that cause bad breath are anaerobes. That means they're microorganisms that only grow in the absence of oxygen. If they come into contact with oxygen, they die.
One of the best ways to eliminate the anaerobic bacteria that are responsible for chronic halitosis is to attack them with oxygen. The regular use of oxygenating tablets and oxygenating nasal sprays such as those found in TheraBreath® Tonsil Stone Kits will change the environment of those hard-to-reach places, making them inhospitable to sulfur-producing microorganisms. Of course, this regimen must be combined with more traditional oral hygiene regimens as well to eliminate bad breath completely. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth after every meal, flossing and cleansing your tongue once daily and professional cleanings and dental exams at least twice a year.
Bad breath is often the butt of jokes, but in reality, it's no laughing matter. Bad breath due to infected tonsils and tonsil stones can be prevented through the use of oxygenating products.