Oral Hell and Oral Health

Funny view from inside mouthImage Source: Smint Ad Campaign

You could have Jessica Alba’s skin, Scarlett Johansson’s lips, Mila Jovovich’s eyes and Angelina Jolie’s (ex) boobs… but if your breath could melt cement, you can ship your ass off to the other side of that bar, thank you!

A beautiful smile is perhaps the most cliché of all physical assets when it comes to what one considers attractive; that and hair and eyes. While there’s not much you can do to maintain beautiful eyes (besides cutting down on smoking herb), all your teeth need is regular brushing and flossing and the reward you enjoy is a beautiful white smile. This is something that Hollywood superstars spend a veritable fortune on.

Yet in spite of the glaringly obvious logic, oral hygiene doesn’t get the recognition it should and as far as attraction is concerned, I consider it key! Why? Do you have any idea what goes on in your mouth? It’s a writhing cesspool of bacteria!

Your Mouth: Pathogen Paradise

oral-bacteria-in-your-mouth

We share our world, our body and our mouths with billions of tiny microorganisms. Being a warm moist cavity, your mouth is an excellent environment for them because, just like Tiger Woods and Bill Clinton, bacteria love warm, moist cavities.

The proliferation of oral bacteria is fuelled by the sugar and food debris left in your mouth after eating a meal, or after sipping on a delicious, ice cold beverage. Mmmm, beer. But, just like everything else that eats, bacteria need to use the toilet too and the wastes they produce are not only acidic, they are also packed with sulphuric compounds. These – if you can recall that unfortunate incident in High School chemistry class, your mother’s nauseating flatulence or a visit to the local geothermal hot springs – smell very much like rotten eggs.

And aside from the obvious onion and garlic-loaded meal, THIS is what causes bad breath: bacteria poop.

young girl checks her breath with her hand

In addition to using your teeth as their bathroom, bacteria are workaholics. Their wastes accumulate relentlessly on your tongue, teeth and gums in between your efforts to keep them clean. If you ever wanted to see evidence of this waste, simply use your fingernail to gently scrape at your teeth, particularly at the margin with the gums. That white sticky substance that comes off is called plaque and it’s composed of alive bacteria, dead bacteria and bacteria poop.

Left in place for too long, plaque becomes tartar. Bacteria establish vast condominiums and apartment blocks, perhaps a school or two, a post office, library and police station ON your teeth. In other words, a far more permanent settlement and no amount of vigorous brushing can tear down these structures. To remove tartar, you need to see the dental hygienist who will get to work destroying the lives of gazillions of bacteria families by levelling schools, razing houses to the ground and basically bringing Armageddon down upon the pathogens inhabiting your mouth.

The Tyranny of Plaque and Tartar

funny Horse with open mouth

Plaque and tartar are the reason dentists encourage you to brush your teeth more than just once a month. All it takes is a few hours for bacteria to coat your teeth in their gross mess and the acidity of it eats away at your teeth, which causes cavities. So, contrary to popular understanding, sugar, sweets and candy don’t cause cavities, bacteria do. But bacteria, like Bill Cosby, LOVE them some sugar. It provides them with the energy to multiply faster and so, people who eat a lot of sugar and refined carbohydrates will probably find themselves at a greater risk of cavities than those who eat healthily, like those annoying vegans and vegetarians who are out to make everyone look like sadomasochists.

The tyranny of bacteria poop doesn’t end there… being highly acidic, it also irritates the soft tissues in your mouth, particularly the gums, which become angry and inflamed in response. The medical terminology for inflammation is “itis” – think laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx), tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon), meningitis (inflammation of the brain)… and so, people with poor oral hygiene and a diet full of sweets, candy, alcohol and other delights tend to suffer from gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).

Then there’s periodontitis.

Periodontitis. Claiming Teeth and Killing Sex Lives Since, Like, Forever 

Funny old man toothless

Image Source: FunnyChillies.com

Periodontitis is gingivitis on steroids. It’s what happens over the course of many years when you neglect to brush and floss your teeth frequently enough. It’s what happens when you compliment your deplorable oral hygiene routine with habits such as smoking, excessive drinking and a diet that is full of the wrong stuff and in severe shortage of the right stuff.

Heads up: do NOT Google “periodontitis” if you want to keep your lunch down.

Periodontitis (peri – “around”, dont – “tooth”, itis – “inflammation”) is an aggressive bacterial infection of the gums and one that extends deep into the seemingly watertight spaces between the roots of your teeth and the gums that surround them. It does this by slowly destroying the ligaments and tissues that attach the gums to the teeth, thereby forming deep pockets in which oral bacteria are left to happily bonk (themselves), produce babies and poop to their heartless content.

At this stage in the infection, there is absolutely nothing you can do to redeem yourself, unless you can figure out how to get a toothbrush underneath your gum tissue to scrub your tooth roots clean, although I’m guessing that would be about as uncomfortable as the silence around the dinner table after your mom has accidentally discovered your vibrator.

So what’s the solution? What can people who have neglected their oral health do to be able to breathe again without offending everybody within a three-mile radius?

Female medical doctor - dentist - showing chewing gum. Dental care

Salivation, I Mean, Salvation 

The good news is that if you have been diagnosed with gum problems such as gingivitis or, Gawd forbid, periodontitis, treatment is available! Also, you’re not alone. According to the Centre for Disease Control, a pretty shocking 80% of the population of America suffers with some kind of gum infection, be it localised or general, mild or aggressive.

And you guys are supposed to be the most advanced nation on the planet? Pssshhh!

If you have been diagnosed with gum problems, you will just have to resign yourself to to the fact that you’re going to have to spend a couple of uncomfortable sessions in the dentist’s chair. You might even be referred to a dental specialist known as a periodontist. What’s the difference? Periodontists sit back in their chair with a calm demeanour and steepled fingers in a way that only those who charge a disgusting amount of money for 15 minutes of their time can do.

I want to be one of those people one day.

Periodontists also focus their efforts on treating conditions, infections and diseases that affect the gum tissue and bone surrounding the teeth, much like a cardiovascular surgeons focuses on treating conditions, infections and diseases that affect the heart. The good thing about opting for timely treatment is that the alternative is tooth loss and a sloppy, gummy smile that is guaranteed to end your sex life for good.

toothless-man

What’s The Prognosis, Doc?

Dental treatment may cost a fair penny and it may not be the most pleasurable sensation in the world having your gums peeled back from the roots of your teeth to clear out all the muck, bacteria and other gross things you’ve been harbouring there since you decided to quit your oral hygiene career and instead become a hedonistic couch potato. When you consider the outcomes of this kind of decision, I find it difficult to believe that anyone would make any other choice. But there IS another choice short of ignoring how disgusting you’ve allowed your mouth to become and it’s a revelation of epic proportions. It will blow your mind! It will change your life forever!

Dental hygiene

Prevention!

Ask any pregnant teen! Prevention is the answer! Just first make sure they aren’t of the Mormon persuasion, because I believe teen pregnancy is quite normal to them.

Prevention is better than cure and this may be the boring part because it reminds you of every conversation you’ve ever had with your dentist. By brushing your teeth at least twice a day, by flossing before you go to bed at night EVERY night and by visiting the dentist once per year to have your teeth professionally cleaned and your oral health assessed, you can prevent yourself from falling victim to gross diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. You can prevent the build-up of bacterial poop on your pearly whites, gums and tongue, thereby helping to keep your breath tolerable, rather than smelling like a flatulant geothermal vent.

This is a good thing because if you enjoy kissing people of the opposite sex (or same sex; no one’s judging) then the clean breath associated with a healthy mouth is a MUST. Like I said right at the start: you could be a vision of smouldering hotness, but if you have the kind of mephitic breath that is befitting of the family lavatory after Mexican food night, I would literally rather make out with Rosie O’Donnell.

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

happy and smiling girl with a smile painted on paper

In this horribly germophobic society we live in, there is this ridiculous paradox: the same people who go out of their way to NOT touch the stairway banister or escalator railing in the fear of contracting the Ebola virus, will go to bed without flossing their teeth. The same people who shower two or even three times a day and insist on changing their bed sheets every week haven’t seen the inside of a dentist’s office since they had their braces removed at the age of 14.

There are three integral components to maintaining good oral health and they are so easy, there’s absolutely no excuse for not doing them: (1) brush two to three times a day for two minutes at a time, (2) floss every day before you go to bed at night and (3) see your dentist and oral hygienist at least once per year.

There’s nothing more attractive than a healthy smile. Also, you’re not a shark. You only have one chance at permanent teeth, so look after them!

The Science Of Farts: Yes, It’s a Thing

Plate of baked beansImage Credit: BBC Food Blog: What’s Wrong With Cheap Food?

Prelude to the Rude

It has not so subtly been suggested to me by my friends on several occasions that I write a blog about farts and the science behind it all. My friends’ penchant for toilet humor is just one of the many reasons I love them dearly and so, today, with my return to the blogosphere, I plan to finally render reality from drunken suggestion.

Farts are always funny, sometimes embarrassing and rarely appreciated in confined spaces with poor ventilation. So, why do we fart? What accounts for their embarrassing odor? Why do some announce their exit with great brass band fanfare, while others sneak out the back door quieter than a grounded teenager?

Let’s explore the answer to some of mankind’s greatest questions about our own butts.

 “Sweet Lord, Why…?”


Arielle the little mermaid

… asked the countless women who have woken themselves from a deep slumber with the embarrassing realization that they have accidentally revealed to their bedfellow their most preciously guarded secret:

That they are indeed human.

Why must your butt sabotage your attempts to appear beautiful, perfect and divine in the presence of your lover? Goddesses don’t fart!

The good news is EVERYONE farts. Girls fart. We know for a fact that boys fart. All humans fart and animals do, too. It is a perfectly normal biological process that is caused by the generation of gases in your belly, which need to go somewhere or else you’d blow up like a balloon and die. As morose as that sounds, it’s utterly true.

What’s in a Fart?

Boobie bird lifting foot

Image Credit: http://www.wildlifeadventures.com

First of all, “flatus” is the more polite and sterile term, so henceforth we shall be referring to wanton winds as such, since that is what flatus literally means in Latin: “a breaking or blowing of wind.” Flatus is composed of all kinds of interesting things, the precise chemistry of which varies from person to person and from hour to hour, depending on a gruesome suite of factors.

We ingest quite a bit of air when we eat, so that’s one source of flatus. Then there’s the fact that everyone’s bowel is host to legions of bacteria, which help to break down the foods we eat. One of the by-products produced by this intestinal flora is gas and this accumulates in our gut until it gets expelled. This particular source of flatus is quite a bit more “tropical” in bouquet than that caused by the ingestion of air (for obvious reasons).

Now, the chemical composition of this wind depends on the individual’s very unique biochemistry and whether or not their bowels are healthy. Diet and your body’s tolerance for the foods you eat play another major role in the chemistry of your flatus: certain foods may produce a more corpulent sulphurous bouquet, while others might make your pants smell like a horse stable after a long, dank winter.

What all flatus has in common is that 99% of its volume is composed of the following constituents:

  • 20 to 90% Nitrogen
  • 0 to 50% Hydrogen
  • 10 to 30% Carbon dioxide
  • 0 to 10% Oxygen, and
  • 0 to 10% Methane

Given this chemical composition, we can explain one commonly observed fact and another commonly joked-about reality concerning the very future of life on Earth:

  1. Hydrogen and methane are highly flammable gases, which is why you can light your farts on fire. But, did you know that only some people have the specific types of bacteria necessary to produce methane? You will find examples of these humans on YouTube publicly wrecking their sex appeal.
  2. Carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases, which means they have the tendency to absorb solar radiation, thereby contributing to the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. Given their fibrous diets, cows and other livestock fart (and burp) a LOT and this has been postulated to contribute to climate change. The threat of impending doom has never had a funnier back-story.

Fart Bouquet

funny fart picture

So, now we know that flatus is mostly caused by ingesting air and by bacterial fermentation in our guts. The next question humankind has asked of itself since the very first hominid got kicked out the cave by dropping a vile dart is: why do some farts stink?

Since the main constituents mentioned above (hydrogen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, etc.) don’t smell of anything on their own, the hot, moist odor of flatus is really determined by trace gasses and chemicals that only make up 1% of the flatus’ volume! And these are produced by bacterial fermentation and digestion in the gastrointestinal tract. It’s through these processes that your body is able to conjure up some pretty exotic chemicals that can taint your flatus, thereby enabling you to torture your poor girlfriend with an age old tradition called a “Dutch Oven.”

funny fart poster

Some of the chemicals that contribute to the malodor of flatus include indole and skatole, which are produced through the digestion of meat. This explains why carnivorous animals produce such insidious flatus, while the posterior emissions of cows, hippies other herbivores are far more tolerable (in theory).

Volatile sulfurous compounds, such as methanethiol, dimethyl sulfide and hydrogen sulfide, are produced by intestinal bacteria as waste products and they also play a major role in the bouquet of your flatus. The latter of these three accounts for that “rotten egg” smell.

Finally – and for this one you may want to put down that sandwich you’re eating – poop. Yes, poop. If you have a bullet in the chamber, or so to speak, your flatus may exit your body amidst a cloud of poop molecules, causing everyone nearby to flee from the room amidst a fanfare of disgusted wrist-flapping.

Orchestral Score

brass band funny fart

The final question we ask in this heroic endeavor to understand the one bodily function that has the rare ability to make everyone laugh, regardless of age, gender and creed, is this: why are some farts noisy?

This has everything to do with the physics of a flatus’ escape from your derriere and not its composition. Since there is no way I can bring myself to answer this question in an inoffensive way, I’ll leave you with a quote from the Beach Boys:

“Good, good, GOOD, good vibrations!”

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

Nicki Minaj anaconda

If you ever felt embarrassed by the odd fart, just imagine the eternally crippling life struggles faced by a flatologist. Yes, the study of farts “flatology” is an official field. I mean, how on God’s sweet Earth do you explain to new acquaintances, dates and (if you even get that far) in-laws what you do for a living?

We can’t help it: farts are funny and even though I consider my sense of humor to be fairly evolved, my not-so inner child will always laugh out loud at them. For instance, I’ve spent the majority of my time writing this blog in utter hysterics. Having said this, farts are also interesting and a fairly accurate indicator of our diet and intestinal health. So remember, to fart is human and to forgive the guy who just did it in an elevator, divine. Not that I’d know anything about it in practice…

I’m a lady and everyone knows ladies don’t fart.