Oral and Dental Health

How can I prevent my bad morning breath?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My breath is OK during the day, but when I wake up in the morning, it's terrible. What causes bad morning breath? And what can I do to prevent it?

DEAR READER: Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common problem -- especially "morning breath." (Some people call it "dragon breath.") Certain foods can cause bad breath. Garlic and onions are classic examples. Reflux of stomach contents can do the same. So can serious diseases of the liver or kidneys. Infections of the tonsils, sinuses or respiratory tract can also be responsible for bad breath.

Why have I lost my sense of taste?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've lost my sense of taste within the past few months. I take medicine for high blood pressure -- could that be the reason?

DEAR READER: It could be, but there are other possibilities. What we call "taste" is actually a combination of the sensations from the taste buds on our tongue and the smell centers in our nose. Taste also involves nerves in the tongue that sense the texture of food we are eating.

What’s causing the burning sensation in my mouth?

DEAR DOCTOR K: For months, my mouth has been painfully burning and tingling. What could be causing my symptoms? Are there any treatments for it? DEAR READER: Several conditions can cause a burning sensation in the mouth. Some nutritional deficiencies — particularly of B vitamins, iron and zinc — can cause it. These problems can […]

What happens during a root canal?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have to have a root canal. Why do I need it? And what will happen during the procedure?

DEAR READER: If you've never had a root canal, and if you've heard someone say, "I'd rather have a root canal than have ..." you probably think it's very painful. I've had several root canals. They're no fun, that's for sure. But you get an anesthetic before the procedure that greatly reduces or eliminates the pain.

What causes a dulled sense of taste?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've recently noticed a dulling of my sense of taste. What's worse, my ability to taste sweetness (my favorite taste!) seems to be the most affected. Is it possible that I've damaged the part of my tongue that detects sweetness?

DEAR READER: We don't give much thought to our sense of taste until it isn't there. I'm sure your recent taste troubles have made you realize how much you rely on this sense.