The 10 Major Causes of Bad Breath (and What to Do About It)

In this blog post, Dr. Michael Sinkin, a D.D.S. practicing for over 20 years, educates readers as to what 10 common causes for bad breath are and a few tips when battling “halitosis,” aka, bad breath. Dr. Sinkin lists 10 reasons you may be experiencing bad breath with number 10 being prescription medicines that may create “dry mouth” to the number one cause being poor dental hygiene. He goes on to list and explain 3 remedies when battling bad breath including: tongue scrapers, mouthwash, and non-alcoholic mouth rinses.

Read the article, remedies and all 10 causes here:


Oil Pulling: Friend or Foe?

oil in bottles

Perhaps you’ve heard of one of the latest health crazes: oil pulling; which is the act of swishing oil in your mouth (like a mouthwash) to remove bacteria and toxins. Like many of the “new” health fads surfacing (of which many aren’t new at all, but derive from ancient practices), it focuses on natural remedies with an emphasis on holistic health.

But is oil pulling really all it claims? We scoured the Internet for articles, studies and posts and did some research to try and answer just that.

The practice of oil pulling dates back to more than 3,000 years ago, and almost any article discussing it addresses it as an Ayurvedic method. What exactly does Ayurvedic mean? Ayurveda is a study of “auxiliary or life knowledge.” It’s a form of alternative medicine and is the traditional medicine from the Indian Subcontinent.

Many modern users of the ancient method say they had whiter teeth, healthier gums and better breath almost immediately. It has also been said to help ailments such as cavities, congestion, acne and even claims to help cure systematic problems such as heart disease and arthritis – but thus far, few clinical trials have been conducted to back up such claims. But one thing seems unanimous – oil pulling can decrease the amount of bacteria in your mouth. And that’s never a bad thing. As we mentioned in our last article, Pearly Whites: Our Very Own Pearly Gates to Better Health, the mouth acts as the gateway to our entire body and therefore taking care of it should be on the top of your “health to-do” list. By stopping the bacteria that resides in your mouth in its’ tracks, it makes sense that it would affect your health holistically in a positive way.  As Jessica T. Emery, DMD, puts it, “When you consider the fact that a clean mouth may have between 1,000 and 100,000 bacteria on each tooth, and those that do not have a clean mouth may have between 100 million and a billion bacteria on each tooth, surely oil pulling can’t hurt?”

However, people generally coincide oil pulling with the term “alternative medicine.” But it indeed should not be an alternative to seeing your dentist and/or any other healthcare professional you are or should be seeing for a problem that oil pulling claims to help! Dental (and all healthcare) professionals go to years of schooling to learn about the health, practices, care and properties of your mouth (and health) for a reason, and swishing oils around in your mouth cannot replace that. Rather, oil pulling should be a supplemental care to support your regular healthy practices to accomplish an even healthier you! Regular check ups and teeth cleanings with your dentist are and will be the best ways to detect any problems arising as early as possible. Before an issue turns into something irreversible and/or detrimental to not only the aesthetics of your beautiful smile, but possibly your health as a whole!

Here are 10 guidelines and tips to oil pulling:

  1. Use a vegetable-based, high-quality oil – sesame, sunflower and coconut being the most common. A few resources quoted a recent preference to coconut oil in the practice because it has antifungal properties and a generally mild taste. I found conflicting information regarding whether to use refined or unrefined oils, but it sounds like either or produce satisfying results so I’ll leave that one in your hands.
  2. Preferably rinse first thing in the morning. Before eating or drinking anything, as you should have a good amount of bacteria lingering in your mouth after a good night’s rest.
  3. Rinse with ½ – 1 tablespoon of oil, or so. This seemed to be the magic number among sources, but many also mentioned simply using a spoonful. My advice: do what you can.
  4. Don’t gargle or swallow the oil! This would defeat the purpose as you are trying to rid your body of bacteria and toxins, not give them a first class trip into your body cavity. If you are having difficulties with this, spit out and try using a smaller amount of oil.
  5. Rinse for 5-20 minutes. It’s common to start with 5 and work your way to 20 as you get more accustomed to the texture, taste and practice. Many mentioned that users were motivated to do more once they saw results, so no need to force yourself right away.
  6. Swish gently. This helps not only in preventing accidental swallowing, but is also easier on your mouth and jaw. If you’re going the full 20, there’s no rush!
  7. Set a timer and try to get some other tasks on your (morning) to-do list done. This should help make time go faster. Some examples could be checking emails, meditating, showering (but don’t spit down the drain), ironing, planning your day, or even just humming a song, the list goes on. The point is to get your mind off the clock so it doesn’t seem like an eternity and you’re multi-tasking!
  8. Spit discarded oil in the garbage. Not toilet or sink as there is bacteria and toxins in the discarded oil and it can solidify and clog your drain!
  9. When finished, the oil should be a white-milky substance. If when you spit it’s not white in color, it’s possible you didn’t do it long enough.
  10. Rinse with water and brush your teeth after. Also, rinsing with salt and/or baking soda in your water can help rid of the oily-feeling/taste even better.

*Also, because your body is cleansing itself of toxins and bacteria, a.k.a. detoxing, there are a few things you should be aware of. It’s not uncommon to experience headaches, mucus drainage and/or nausea when oil pulling, especially at first. If you’ve ever had a deep tissue or cleansing massage, they’ll recommend you drink water to replenish and warn you of feeling light-headed and a potential headache. This attributes to the fact that if your body isn’t used to cleansing itself of built up toxins and doing so quite rapidly, it’s going to react to it. But according to the information I found, these symptoms should lessen and subside with practice. However, if any of it is too uncomfortable or unbearable for you, don’t push yourself too hard! And if any of the negative side effects continue or increase after discontinuing, seek a healthcare professional. It’s also wise to check for any potential allergic reaction to an oil by wiping some on the inside crease of your elbow a day or two before trying it.

After researching the topic in such depth, I couldn’t help but want to try it out myself. So I did just that! After running to my local market (3 actually), I found that it wasn’t that easy to find a liquid coconut oil, but all three had it in a solid state – which you can easily melt either in your mouth or beforehand and use as a rinse as well, but I didn’t find this out until returning home. Coconut oil is naturally a liquid at degrees of 75 Fahrenheit and higher, and a solid, butter-like consistency anything below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Out of curiosity and for the sake of my experiment, (as well as a plan B), I got a bottle of sesame oil in addition to the coconut oil.  Which I’m very glad I did! I tried rinsing with the coconut oil first as much of my research attributed coconut oil to being more pleasant (and an anti-microbial). I only made it a little more than two minutes before I had to spit it out because I was gagging some and afraid I would swallow it. It was then that I read the word “garlic” printed a bit smaller on the bottom of the label, not exactly the “flavor” you want to be gargling with! Yuck! At the store, I was so excited to have finally found a liquid coconut oil; I bought it without carefully reading the label. So don’t make the same mistake I did! (Also, if anyone has any good recipes utilizing garlic coconut oil, please share in the comments! J) Feeling that my first trial was flawed (because of my lack of attention to detail), I tried the sesame oil; which turned out to be much easier without the garlic essence! It still took a bit to get used to the oily texture, but the longer I rinsed the liquid became less oily and easier to swish. I also found that I was less apt to have the sensation of gagging if I swished the oil more towards the front of my mouth, from cheek to cheek before trying to work it further into my oral cavity, and of course if I kept my mind off of it and busy. (I should also note that I am extremely sensitive to textures and gag easily). After about 15 minutes I finally spit into a small bowl before dumping the discarded oil in the garbage because I was curious to see if the oil had indeed turned a milky-white. And sure enough, it did! Now I personally can’t say that I experienced any of the negative side effects, but hope to see some positive ones in the days and weeks to come as

So rinse, swish and spit away my friends! But be sure to keep an eye out for new information regarding the practice. With such a widespread method being adopted by many, quickly, studies and trials are sure to come. And remember that oil pulling should not be something that replaces other, traditional oral care, including brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly!

If you have any experiences and/or opinions concerning oil pulling, please comment below! I’d love to hear about them!

Pearly Whites: Our Very Own Pearly Gates to Better Health

dentist-smileOur precious pearly whites are good for much more than just chomping on our favorite foods and flashing that debonair smile. Acting as the gateway to the body, our mouths are also a prime window into our health as a whole! Toothaches, infections and other dental ailments could be the first telltale signs that something bigger may be going on with your body. This, of course, isn’t saying if you are having dental issues that you do indeed have a disease! Let’s not be so melodramatic. However, to be aware that your body may be sending you a SOS through your oral cavity is information we thought might be useful and is worth spreading.

When I was 10, my grandmother suffered a diabetic stroke and shortly thereafter passed away because she was unable to recover from it. We didn’t know she was diabetic and her diet was not one to cater to the disease, so to speak. Something that has, and will, always stick with me from that experience is that her mouth was the first red flag hinting at what was to come. Shortly before her flying to visit family, an unnerving toothache surfaced. And since my grandmother was diabetic, her body was unable to properly fight off the infection of her abscess tooth. Before leaving for her trip, her neck was quite swollen from the infection and it hurt to eat, so she barely did. This most likely disrupted her already unhealthy blood sugar levels and ultimately put her into the diabetic coma. Had we been aware of her diabetes, perhaps we could have prevented the harsh outcome; at least heeding the danger or increasing awareness to her food intake, or lack thereof.

Those who are undiagnosed and unaware of a disease they carry, may experience differing issues and ailments across their systems, with a prime contestant being the mouth. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states that systematic diseases, especially those such as: “diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and AIDS… can directly or indirectly compromise oral tissue.” In fact, according to the World Health Organization, there are over “120 diseases that have indicators relating to the mouth.” And if you need more convincing, the Mayo Clinic, another reliable source, states that there is a strong link between poor overall health and poor oral health. Get the message? Take care of your teeth! And keep in mind when our bodies are “out of whack” they have multiple ways of telling us so. Just make sure you’re listening!

We all know the best way to overall wellness and avoiding various diseases and ailments is by practicing preventative medicine, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. And now you know to add visiting your dentist regularly to the top of that list!

Entomophagy: The Food You’re not Eating for the Wrong Reasons

772px-ChapulinesWhen we think about all of the foods that are healthy for us, bugs are probably not top on that list. But many cultures, especially Asia, Africa and South America, rely on insects as their main source of protein. In many countries bugs are considered delicacies, served in the fanciest restaurants. In the United States and other urban areas, the thought of eating insects (also known as entomophagy) gives people the creepy crawlies and is reserved for reality shows like Survivor and Fear Factor. But actually insects are chock-full of vitamins and minerals and are a more nutritious form of protein than what we usually eat. Here is a fun, informational video about entomophagy and its health benefits. It might not make you dash out the door to gather some crickets or ants, but it is quite interesting.

For more info check out this site:




New Study Shows Reading Increases Brain Function for Days

reading increases brain functionI know I’ve been on a reading kick lately but it is a passion of mine and really beneficial to your health. Reading does for your mind what exercise does for your body. A new study out of Emory University shows that reading increases brain function.

According to scientists, reading a gripping novel can make heightened connectivity and neurological changes in the brain that can last several days after reading the book. It’s similar to muscle memory.

A study was conducted where 21 students read the same book–Pompeii by Robert Harris. The book was chosen for its strong narrative line and thrilling plot. Each day the students read a section of the book and received an MRI. They were also scanned for five days after finishing the book. The scans showed changes in brain activity during the reading of the novel and for all five days afterward. This is called shadow activity and acts a lot like muscle memory.

The biggest changes were found in the left temporal cortex where neurons are known for grounded cognition (basically tricking the brain to think it’s doing something it’s not really doing). It’s almost as if the reader is literally putting themselves in the protagonist’s shoes, even though their just reading the story.

This study shows that reading does not only have an immediate impact but also a long-lasting influence. Just one more reason to crack open that book.

For more info: