Tuesday, July 21, 2015

If My Floss Smells Does That Mean I Have Bad Breath?

A common assumption that many of our patients have made is that if their floss has a bad odor on it after flossing then this automatically means they have an accompanying breath problem. Well the answer is…… maybe. Having a bad odor on your floss does not necessarily mean you have a bad breath condition, but is also not a good thing to have an odor on your floss after flossing. There are a few reasons why someone might have a bad odor on their floss.

The most common reason for malodor on the floss is gum disease or periodontal disease. The anaerobic bacteria that are responsible for gum disease reside under the gums and these produce what are known as volatile sulfur compounds, otherwise known as VSCs. The VSCs that are produced by these anaerobic bacteria are the same ones that are produced by the anaerobic bacteria that are responsible for causing halitosis, and the odors are quite similar. It’s easy to see how odors found on one’s floss can be misconstrued as being related to a halitosis condition. It is important to understand that if a gum disease condition is advanced enough, or enough teeth are involved, a breath condition may occur.

It is also not uncommon, especially in people who don’t floss enough, for the anaerobic bacteria to accumulate under the gums. The accumulation may not be sufficient enough to produce a condition of periodontal disease but there may be odors (VSCs) accumulating under the gums. When the floss is placed under the gums during normal flossing the odors can get on the floss and this may be noticeable when you smell the floss. Having odors on the floss is not a good thing because it means the bacterial activity under the gum tissues is increasing, and of course this can lead to gum disease. Regular twice a day flossing will help with this. Also a unique device called a Hydro Floss Oral Irrigator can eliminate the odors emanating from the gums and drastically decrease the bacterial load in a matter of days. We commonly recommend this device to our patients as part of their treatment to eliminate their halitosis. It is also commonly used to treat patients with periodontal disease.

About the author: Dr. Anthony Dailley is a practicing general dentist in Berkeley California. He has been practicing since 1981 and graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Cell & Molecular Biology, and obtained his dental degree from the Pacific School of Dentistry. Dr. Dailley also holds a fellowship position with the International Congress of Oral Implantologist (ICOI). Dr. Dailley has also been a founder in a biotech company called NovaBay Pharmaceuticals and was a member of their board of directors from 1997 -2014. I'm reading: If My Floss Smells Does That Mean I Have Bad Breath?Tweet this!

27 comments:

  1. Are these sulfur compounds under the gums why I occasionally have breath that tastes like eggs? For some reason, I equated this to stomach acid. This is a really good thing to know. Now I know for sure that brushing my teeth and flossing will really get rid of this smell.
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  3. The reason of smell on the floss is also because you have't do it for a long time, even though you don't want to admit it. Or else, from the point of the genomic library construction, some gene changes are to prevent some diseases.

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  4. Yes, the floss problem may be connected with bad breath, but it may be also a result of other types malfunction like with your digestion system. Thus when there is the floss smelly, first go to check the if there is a bad breath problem and then trace the reason furtherly. Really hope the toothpaste can help to eliminate the single floss problem by adding some chemicals or related drug design can be set out to focus on such problems.

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  6. I tried twice a day flossing but still the same!

    My two upper back end tooth's smell terrible (each two side)...and really makes me uncomfortable!!

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    1. Mine too! I smell my floss after every tooth. However, my very back teeth on the top and bottom smell like moth balls. For weeks it hasn't gone away. Some days, it's better, but then comes back. I'm so scared I have bad breath, and sadly...I can't afford dental.

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    2. Hey. Recently ventured into improving my dental health. In my experience there is a direct concomitant between breath and oral hygiene. Test your breath regularly. At various times throughout the day literally iick the back of your hand and blow it dry and smell it. If it smells like death... that means your breath is not so freah. Brush teeth when you wake up and a quick mouth wash rinse to kill bacteria. Every time you consume a meal, chew on sugarless gum for 20 minutes max to help rinse food particles after meals (flossing is ideal but not always practical). Before you sleep flossing is a must as the last thing you do before you sleep. A mouth wash rinse would help to kill germs (incl. Odor releasing germs). Just like training at the gym, dental hygiene is a lifestyle choice and deserves regular priority. Avoid sweets in my opinion and stick to meals as opposed to regular snacking. If youre constantly eating it gives no chance for your mouth to regulate itself. In other words there will continually be food particles in your mouth and this is what the bacteria feeds off.

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