The Weapon Against Halitosis

Researchers say a new therapy for bad breath may also benefit the heart. The treatment is called Laser-Assisted Bacterial Reduction Therapy. It involves sweeping between the teeth and gums with a dental laser to eliminate stubborn sulfur compounds that cause bad breath. Researchers have found it also may reduce the risk of bacterial invasion before heart, periodontal or other invasive surgeries.

"Localized mouth bacteria may very well be your mouth's, and possibly your body's, number one enemy," said Dr. Richard Hansen, D.M.D. of the Comprehensive Dental Center in Fullerton, California.

"Regular brushing, flossing and antibiotic therapy will not eliminate all of the offending bacteria. Laser-assisted bacterial reduction targets bacteria in hard-to-reach areas between your teeth and gums, sealing off blood vessels and nerves to minimize the chance of infection or discomfort." Mouth bacteria may grow and spread through the circulatory system, eventually winding up near the heart.

Since bacterial infection complicates recovery and may even be life threatening, laser-assisted bacterial reduction has been introduced by cardiologists and dentists as a preventive therapy prior to surgery, particularly for patients with a family history of heart disease, Hansen said.

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