Why Vitamin C Is Important

Why Vitamin C Is Important

There’s been a great deal of research concerning the many ways in which Vitamin C is beneficial to health. Also known as ascorbic acid, this nutrient serves the body in a variety of ways. In addition to the long established means of helping to maintain health, there’s a great deal of research indicating its value in helping the body overcome serious illness and disease. Some studies indicate a good potential for the possibility that Vitamin C can even help prevent some diseases.
What we definitely know about vitamin C is that it is an essential part of the creation of collagen in the body. Collagen is particularly import to the connective tissues of the body and is the scar of healed wounds is made of. We also know that it helps to keep the gums healthy and the teeth tight. It also promotes healthy cell growth and development, as well as helps the body to use the iron and calcium it takes in. Vitamin C plays an important role in the healing of wounds and the rebuilding of tissues, helps to keep tiny capillaries functioning the way that they should, and also serves to prevent dangerous blood clots.
From the many scientific studies through the years, Vitamin C has come to be associated with many other health benefits. These include such things as strengthening the body’s immune system, helping to fight infection, playing a role in the reduction of cholesterol and high blood pressure, and having a part in the prevention of arteriosclerosis. Furthermore, Vitamin C has been associated with helping to prevent cataracts, cardiovascular diseases and even certain types of cancer. Research continues into these intriguing areas of study.
A lack of Vitamin C has been known for many years to be the cause of the disease scurvy. Early signs of scurvy include red bumps around hair follicles, easy bruising, joint pain and a general feeling of weakness and fatigue. As the disease progresses, small open sores begin to appear on the body and in the mouth. The teeth loosen and gum tissue bleeds. Other ways in which a deficiency of Vitamin C can affect the health of the body include poor digestion, water retention, frequent colds, and low energy levels.
While the minimum standard of Vitamin C daily intake is 60 micrograms or mg, most recommend consuming significantly more than that. The minimum requirement offers protection against the worst symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency, with most of the positive effects coming from intake levels of 200 to 500 mgs daily. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and thus, passes out of the body with urine. That means it must be replaced daily.
Many people find that using Vitamin C supplements is a safe and convenient means of making sure that the daily Vitamin C intake goals are met. Your desired daily intake of Vitamin C will depend of what you are hoping to achieve with your intake, i.e. helping to reduce cholesterol or high blood pressure, helping in collagen production, or building up your immune system. Seeing your health care professional is a good way to determine the best and most beneficial daily intake level for you.

Gum Disease Herbal Remedies

Gum Disease Herbal Remedies

Gingivitis is another term for gum disease. It is characterized by an inflammation of the gums (gingival) around the teeth due to improper oral hygiene. When the teeth are not brushed properly, plaque deposits mount, irritating the gums and causing a bacterial infection. Another form of gum disease is periodontitis. This is a more serious and deeper inflammation of the gums and the tissues that surround and support the teeth. If left untreated, this could result in progressive loss of the underlying bone that supports the teeth.

How to Prevent It

Gum disease is easily avoided. It only calls for proper oral hygiene. If the disease has only started to develop, it can still be treated by brushing the teeth properly and cleaning it using dental floss. Some of the nutritional supplements recommended to prevent gum disease from forming are folic acids for rinsing. Vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10, and Calcium are also needed to keep the gums and the teeth healthy and strong.

Gum Disease Herbal Remedies

There are actually several herbal remedies available to treat gum disease. Although the use of these gum disease herbal remedies still needs more scientific proof, there have been reports where these herbal remedies were successful in treating the disease symptoms. Below are samples of these herbal remedies that have shown a little success in treating gum disease:

* Bloodroot
Herbal remedies can be made out of the herb, bloodroot which contains high concentrations of alkaloids, especially the alkaloid, sanguinarine. Alkaloids are sometimes added in toothpastes and other oral hygiene products since they have an inhibiting factor against oral bacteria. Bloodroot herbal remedies may be used to treat gum disease. Also, you could use toothpaste or mouth wash that contains the chief alkaloid found in bloodroot herbal remedies, Sanguiranine.

In one study, bloodroot herbal remedies are said to work well when accompanied with zinc lozenges. Some toothpaste sold today contains alkaloids from bloodroot and zinc as they help reduce gum disease.
* Sage Oil, Peppermint Oil, Menthol Chamomile, Echinacea, Myrrh, Clove, Caraway
Other important herbal remedies that can be used to treat gum disease are a mixture composed of a variety of alkaloid-rich herbs. In cases of acute gum inflammation, herbalists often prescribe herbal remedies containing 0.5 ml of the herbal mixture in a half a glass of water three times daily.

How to Use

Liquid herbal remedies should be swished slowly in the mouth to make sure that all its active constituents reach all corners of the mouth and teeth. After some minutes, spit out the mixture. To prevent recurrences, the mixture may be used in diluted amounts every once in a while.

TOTAL WORD COUNT – 444
KEYWORDS “Gum Disease” – 12 (density = 2.7%)
“Herbal Remedies” – 13 (density = 2.9%)

Dental Assistant Pay

Dental Assistant Pay

Becoming a Dental Assistant not only prepares you for a wonderful career working in the dental field, is also pays very well. Since this area of employment is anticipated to be one of the most in demand over the next six years, your chances of securing a great job with great pay and benefits is very likely.

The Median hourly rate of pay for Dental Assistants is $13.62. This is well above the minimum wage established in most states. In addition to a great hourly wage, many Dental Assistants will receive bonuses if the dental office is doing well, health insurance, and discounted dental procedures. Almost all Dental Assistants receive paid vacation days, sick days, and paid Holidays.

However, earning such a high hourly wage comes with a great level of responsibility. Dental Assistants perform duties relating to patient care, office sanitation, lab duties, and assisting the dentist and hygienist with a variety of procedures. Dental Assistants need to be alert, pay attention to detail, and have effective communication skills. They must also be able to provide patients with comfort measures both before and after procedures are completed.

Dental Assistants are easily confused with Dental Hygienists. Compared to hygienists, who have a median rate of pay of $23.65 per hour, a Dental Assistant is not making a very good hourly wage. However, they are very different professions. A Dental Assistant does just that, assists the dentist and hygienist with providing the best quality care for all patients. A hygienist takes care of cleaning teeth and generally has a steady stream of patients who come in every six months for routine cleaning procedures.

The amount of pay a Dental Assistant earns depends on many factors. The cost of living in your area will be the greatest influence. The amount of revenue the dental office you work for generates will also be a deciding factor. New dentists might have to pay less than established dentists will clientele because they don’t have the traffic coming into the office. However, it is very possible your pay will increase as more patients are drawn to that dental office.

Your level of experience will also be a consideration. You may have to accept a position that pays less than average to get your foot in the door and gain some hands on experience. However, with the demand for Dental Assistants, you should have no problem securing employment. Many dental offices want to keep quality Dental Assistants. They may offer to start you at a lower entry level pay, with the understanding that your performance will be reviewed in 90 days or other time frame. Based on your performance, you pay will be adjusted at that time.

It is important to understand that certified and uncertified Dental Assistants complete the same types of tasks. However, those who are certified earn several dollars more per hour than those who aren’t certified. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to take the certification exam early on in your career as a Dental Assistant.

So Where’s The Silver Lining?

So Where’s The Silver Lining?

Baby boomers beware! What you have been told all these years about silver fillings may not be all they are cracked up to be. Truth is, it may be time to retire those old silver fillings, also known as amalgams.
Post WWII children grew up in an era in which there was a high consumption of sugar-laden foods. Foods like your favorite cereal, sodas, candy bars and desserts. The amount of sugar filled foods for that generation and the current generation is staggering. Additionally, during this period the tooth strengthening benefits of fluoridated water were still undiscovered.
These two factors combined were a major contributing factor to reception rooms of every dentist office in America overflowing with unsuspecting patients. Unsuspecting in that the solution dentistry provided for all of these teeth pitted with cavities and resembling the surface of the moon was an inexpensive silver tooth patch invented in 1894.
Most people were led to believe that silver fillings were actually good for them. Unfortunately, when the dentist patted you on the head, sent you on your way with your lip hanging off of your face and a shiny toy ring in your pocket, he or she failed to tell you, “Oh by the way, your shiny new teeth are packed with mercury and they are going to wear out someday. Only next time there won’t be a pretty ring in your pocket – just a hefty bill.”
Why Do Fillings Wear Out?
Several factors cause the demise of amalgam restoration. Size, personal hygiene, and diet seem to have the greatest influence on their life expectancy. When a tooth is filled, amalgam is packed into a hole created by bacteria and your dentist’s drill. The bigger the hole, the larger the filling used to repair the damage is and the weaker a tooth becomes. Weaker teeth are doomed to fracture because a large filling acts like a wedge, similar to a wedge used to split firewood.
Chewing even soft foods wears the surface of each filling and intensifies the wedging. Hard foods like Corn Nuts and ice wreak havoc on your teeth and should be completely avoided. Acids found in citrus products, coffee, cola products, and foods containing sugar cause the surface of the filling to become rusted and pitted, like a rusty old tin can.
The Truth About Mercury
There are two primary areas to consider regarding mercury. One is how pliable a material it is. The other is how toxic it is.
Mercury is placed in thermometers for a reason; it is very sensitive to temperature change. Even a two-degree difference will register on a thermometer due to the mercury expanding. With mercury being as much as 55% of the substance in an amalgam filling, imagine what that is doing to your tooth structure.
Incredibly it seems that temperature fluctuation in the foods we eat cause the most dramatic breakdown effects in the teeth. When we eat hot or cold foods our fillings expand and contract more that the teeth they are placed inside. Since these fillings are packed tightly into the tooth there is absolutely no room for change.
A can of soda pop placed in a freezer provides an example of two materials expanding at different rates, left long enough and it will explode. Although not as dramatic, the pressures associated with changing mouth temperatures does create microscopic fractures in your teeth, similar to cracks in the windshield of a car. These cracks continue to grow and provide a convenient hiding place for cavity causing bacteria. Even the best brushing and flossing techniques are little match for this type of cavity, and left untreated they can cause large portions of your tooth to break.
Many people don’t realize that the mercury in your silver fillings just happens to be number two on the list of the most toxic elements known to man. In California all Amalgam manufacturers, as of December 1993, must display the following warning.
Warning – This Office uses amalgam-filling materials, which contain and expose you to Mercury, a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm. Please consult your dentist for more information.
Some countries have actually banned the use of mercury altogether. In the United States dentists cannot just throw old mercury down the sink. They have to treat it like the toxic waste it is.
Treatment Options
Fortunately there are now alternatives to silver fillings. New types of replacements have revolutionized dental care. Tooth colored restorations made out of porcelain or plastic can be safely bonded (glued) into place creating a much stronger and more stress resistant chewing surface.
However, there is a downside. Be prepared to pay a little more for these types of restorations because the materials used are more expensive and more difficult for your dentist to place. Also, don’t be surprised if your insurance company saddles you with more of the share of the additional fees. It may take years for them to discover how long term benefits of bonded fillings out way the increase of up front costs.
The question you must ask yourself in any health decision you make is, “What is my health worth?” Your answer will help you find your own silver lining while maintaining a safe, healthy and beautiful smile.
Copyright: © 2004 by Dr. Scott Kiser
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Straightening Your Teeth May Be Good for Your Health

Straightening Your Teeth May Be Good for Your Health

Straightening your teeth can work wonders on your smile, but did you also know it may help lower your risk of developing serious diseases?

“Crooked, crowded or unevenly spaced teeth are harder to keep clean and tend to harbor more food and bacteria,” said Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling, an orthodontics specialist in New York. “This can lead to an increase in plaque and bacteria in the mouth which can cause decay and periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the gums, bone and periodontal ligament that can enter the blood stream, travel to major organs and cause systemic complications.”

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gum disease may contribute to the development of heart disease; increase the risk of stroke, premature birth and low birth weight; and pose a serious threat to people whose health is already compromised due to diabetes, respiratory diseases or osteoporosis.

Properly aligned teeth can help keep plaque and tarter from building up. Plaque and tarter are known causes of gum disease. Straight teeth help gums “fit” tighter around them and also make it easier to brush and floss, which leads to better gum health.

With today’s advances in orthodontic technology, straightening crooked teeth is easier and less noticeable than ever before.

Invisalign, for instance, is a popular technique that straightens teeth using a series of custom-made, clear and removable aligners. Clinical studies show that gum health may improve using Invisalign over other forms of teeth-straightening techniques. Because there are no brackets or wires to worry about, patients can take out their “braces” after meals to brush and floss.

Additional health benefits of straightening teeth include improved chewing and speech and less stress on supporting bone and jaw joints.

Tooth Extraction Jaw Pain-Common With Wisdom Tooth

Tooth Extraction Jaw Pain-Common With Wisdom Tooth

It’s not an uncommon thing to have to have your wisdom teeth out. If they come in at the right angle and don’t become impacted this won’t be an issue, but if and when they do become impacted they need to be removed. tooth extraction jaw pain do tend to go hand in hand in a lot of cases.

Sometimes you can get some residual pain in your jaw and it isn’t easy to diagnose the cause of the jaw pain right away. Obviously, if you have just had your wisdom teeth (or any other teeth for that matter) the pain is probably related to that. But, if you haven’t had a tooth removed the pain is obviously being caused by another source.

One of the things you can do to alleviate Tooth Extraction Jaw Pain is to get your doctor to write you a prescription for a pain killer, an over the counter pain reliever may also work just fine for you too. Also sometimes a cold pack may offer relief. Another thing that sometimes helps is a heating pad. Ultimately you will need to talk to your dentist or oral surgeon to find the best method of reducing your post surgical jaw pain.

The other remedies for jaw joint pain that is not caused by tooth extraction, are as follows:

1. Figure out if you may be grinding your teeth at night. If you are there are various options for alleviating this. For one thing, trying to relax before bed might help. Often, night time teeth grinding is a sign of stress. Sometimes something as simple as a nice soothing bath or shower before bed can be a great solution. If not, your dentist may prescribe a bite plate to be worn at night to keep you from grinding and clenching.

2. Sometimes taking Omega 3 can help relieve some joint pain. Omega 3 has an anti-inflammatory property that can help lessen inflammation of the joint. This can be particularly helpful to women who are suffering due to hormonal changes that cause swelling in the tissues around the jaw.

Regrow Receding Gums Naturally

 

3. There may be some jaw exercises that your dentist or chiropractor can provide you with. Strengthening these muscles may help prevent the cramping a little bit and reduce the number of times you feel the pain.

4. Another thing that could go either way, either help you loosen up your jaw or make it worse, is chewing gum. Some people report that chewing gum relieves their pain and with others chewing gum makes their jaw pain worse. It might be something you could try but be warned, it might make things worse.

There are a lot of things that can cause pain in your jaw and tooth extraction jaw pain is one of them. Before you have any teeth removed, make sure you discuss with your dentist or oral surgeon methods for alleviating your jaw pain. Getting a prescription before the procedure is a good preventative idea.

Pearly Whites Are Possible By Following These Teeth Whitening Tips (3)

Pearly Whites Are Possible By Following These Teeth Whitening Tips

Getting and keeping white teeth is something that many people wish for. The thing is, they are not usually successful in doing so until they have been educated on the subject. In the following article, you are going to be given information that can use to get you the teeth you have always dreamed of.

Do not drink water that has fluoride added to it. Fluoride has been identified as one of the things that can cause your teeth to turn yellow. Simply staying away from this chemical will lead to a whiter smile, and it may also benefit your health. Some countries will not allow fluoride in drinking water because it has been linked to a variety of diseases.

Visit your dentist regularly. Sometimes, the regular cleaning a dentist can provide will remove stains from your teeth and you may not need to have them bleached at all. This deep-down cleaning will help get the stains out of micro-cracks in the enamel in your teeth.

Eating a diet with plenty of whole and raw foods is great for your teeth. Vegetables are great for helping clean your teeth. They also do not contain harsh processed ingredients that may stick to your teeth and cause unwanted tooth decay and discolorations.

You should not begin a teeth whitening regiment until you are around the age of 16 to 18. Until this time a child’s gums are incredibly sensitive. Therefore, the caustic and abrasive products that are used to clean teeth can cause a child’s mouth to enter a world of pain.

One very important teeth-whitening tip is to try to use natural methods whenever possible. This is important because not only will you save money by using these methods, but you will also prevent exposure to chemicals that could either harm you or cause unwanted damage to your teeth.

Use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water to make a rinse to whiten your teeth. Not only does hydrogen peroxide kill germs, it also acts as a whitening agent. Many companies make a “whitening” mouthwash with water, hydrogen peroxide and mint flavor. Save money by making your own rinse.

Electric toothbrushes are really going to help you win the battle against yellow teeth. The pulsating brushes will eliminate your plaque more effectively than a traditional brush will and that will keep your teeth looking whiter. This will also help you fight gingivitis and cavities better than the traditional brush will.

Many people say that using orange and lemon peels on your teeth can help bring them back to their original pearly white state. Take the orange or lemon peel and rub the back part of it on your teeth. Adding a little salt also helps when you are using this technique.

As was stated in the beginning of the article, having white teeth is something that many people hope for. However, the only way this is going to happen is if they know how to do so. Use the advice that was provided to you in the above article to have the whitest teeth possible.

The Importance of a Dental Plan

The Importance of a Dental Plan

When getting health insurance, many of us seek only for covering the costs of treatment for serious medical conditions or accidents, while ignoring the fact that dental insurance is also as important. Dental disease is a very common problem, and covering the cost of treatment can be expensive. Proper dental care plays an important role in your overall good health. For essential safeguards for you and your family, get a dental insurance plan.

Various Plans for Various Needs

There are various dental plans, so you can choose according to your needs and expectations. Knowing the differences are important when selecting a plan and using the benefits. The different plans are as follows:

1. Third Parties

A dental plan usually involves three parties: you, the dentist, and a third party, responsible for funding and administration of the plan. If your plan is funded by your employer, then an administrator would be responsible for processing and payment of claims. There are three types of third parties.

2. Choosing your Dentist

Dental plans where you get to choose a dentist: There are plans which allow you to choose your own dentist, while there are other cheaper plans which may limit your choice. The two plans are called open and closed panel plans.

Open Panel: Here the patient can receive care from any dentist, and also any dentist may accept or refuse to treat patients enrolled in the plan.

Closed Panel: Here the covered patients can receive care only from dentists who have signed a contract of participation with the third party.

3. Paying the Dentist

There are plans where the dentist can be paid in different ways:

Indemnity Plans: Here the insurance carrier charges a monthly premium from the patient and this money gets directly reimbursed to the dentist for his services. The insurance company will pay between 50 percent and 80 percent of the dentist’s fee while the remaining 20 percent to 50 percent is paid by the patient.

Capitation Plans: Here the dentist is paid on a per person basis rather than for actual treatment. A Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) is a common example of a capitation plan.

Direct Reimbursement Plans: This is a self-funded plan where the employer or a company will pay with its own funds, rather than paying premiums to an insurance carrier or third party. The patient pays the dentist directly, and the employer will reimburse the employee a fixed percentage of the dental care costs, once the receipt showing payment and services received is supplied.

Benefits:

The main difference between medical disease and dental disease is that medical disease can be unpredictable and catastrophic, but fortunately most dental problems are preventable. The key to have healthy teeth is to take preventive care and regular visits to the dentist for checkups and cleanings. This way, the problem can be diagnosed early and fixed, without having to take many tests and also saving on expensive treatments. That keeps the costs of dental care much lower than those of medical care.

Dental plans also cover the patient’s regular checkup, unlike medical insurance which may cover the costs of diagnosing, treating and curing serious illnesses. High quality dental care does not require much of the complex, multiple resources often required by medical care. A thorough checkup by the dentist and a set of x-rays are all it takes to diagnose a problem. As most dental problems can be prevented, dental plans are structured to encourage patients to get their regular checkup which is essential for preventing and diagnosing any serious disease.

Forms & Symptoms Of Periodontitis Explained

Forms & Symptoms Of Periodontitis Explained

Gum diseases are due to the action of bacteria brought about by plaque piling up in the gums. Some come in milder forms and classified as gingivitis, while the more severe forms are known as periodontitis. Both diseases cause the gums to bleed, and the symptoms of could include gum pains, mouth sores, and sour taste in the mouth. If periodontitis is left untreated, it may lead to loss of teeth.
There are common forms of severe gum disease and chronic periodontitis tops them. It is defined with having a pocket formation and/or collapse of the gums, which results to inflammation of the teeth tissues and bone loss. On the other hand, there’s aggressive periodontitis which are either the localized type or the generalized type. Aggressive periodontitis results to gum deterioration and destruction of the jawbone. The third form is necrotizing periodontal disease which happens mostly to people afflicted with HIV. Those who are suffereing from malnutrition and severe infections are likely to suffer from this type of serious gum disease as well. It is said that necrotizing periodontal disease results to the severe damage of bone, tissues of the gum and supportive ligaments. According to dental experts, the last form of periodontitis is mostly related to other health conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, and respiratory diseases.
While it is always best to prevent the onset of the disease, there are still people with exemplary dental hygiene who suffer from it because of prior medical condition. This type of periodontitis is usually aggravated by their ailment and sometimes, their medications have a hand at worsening the condition in their gums as well. For some, suffering from an illness often leaves them lax with their usual dental care routines. There are also instances when folks with ailments need specific diets that then results to weaker gums and teeth, leading to the onset of gingivitis or periodontitis.
There are varying signs and symptoms of periodontitis as well. For the most part, the symptoms are experienced during eating where one finds it difficult to chew or bite food. Others would notice that their gums have pulled away from their teeth, or that they have foul breath even after brushing or gargling with mouthwash. The most common sign of this serious gum disease, however, would be when there is bleeding in the gums. People with dentures also often experience loosening up of their false teeth, as well as soreness when the dentures come in contact with the gums. Another common complaint when there’s periodontitis is that the whole mouth area is painful and there’s discomfort during eating. The teeth usually become very sensitive as well when one is suffering from periodontitis. As for the gums, they become sore and swollen, even on the milder forms of the disease. Bleeding usually happens as well when one doesn’t know it’s an onset of periodontitis, and then they use toothbrushes that are made of unsuited materials. This then results to bleeding.
If such signs and symptoms are experienced at any time, it is wise to immediately visit your dentist. Once there, lay out the symptoms fully so that the dentist will have the idea, and also provide the history of discomfort, pains and bleeding you have experienced. You will have then be given an oral exam to check the damage and severity of periodontitis, and be given medications to have it treated. At the same, your dentist will also map out specific routines and alterations in your diet so that the condition will not be aggravated.

Bad Breath in Babies

Bad Breath in Babies

Summary: Bad breath in babies is usually caused by teeth and gum problems or throat and sinus infections.

Not because you are healthy and that you practice proper oral and dental hygiene, doesn’t mean you can’t have bad breath. Healthy looking babies and young children also can have bad breath sometimes. Bad breath in babies can be a sign of other illnesses. Therefore if you notice changes in the mouth odor of your baby, take him/her to the doctor the soonest possible time. You may not find your baby’s breath offensive, but it can be to others and it could be a symptom of some disorders. Mothers usually don’t seem to notice their baby’s foul smell of breath, unless someone will tell them. If you are the mother, please do not be upset but instead, bring him/her to see the doctor for check up, the earlier, the better. The doctor can trace bad breath in babies.

Babies normally have a sweet and very pleasant breath. I remember my two younger sisters when they were babies, they have the sweetest breath. It’s not because they are my sisters, but all the babies have this sweet smell in their mouth especially those who are breastfed. And my sisters were.

However, it is possible that some babies develop bad breath. Bad breath in babies is usually associated with throat infections. Bad breath in babies can be a sinus infection or respiratory infection, like bronchitis. If you bring your baby to a doctor, you may notice that pediatrician may check your baby’s nose to see if there are foreign object, such as a small piece of food or small object stuck in one of your baby’s nostrils. Persistent nasal discharge and breath odor can be the symptoms of bad breath in babies with something stuck on their nostrils.

Infections at the back of your baby’s throat can cause an offensive smell on your baby’s breath. The smell on your child’s breath maybe the cause of inflammation of the pharynx or the tonsils. If tonsils are not inflamed, it is possible that they may have food particles trapped in their many crevices. These food remains can be identified by your doctor as white formations during a throat exam. But, this issue is not a problem for this will pass once the debris is removed.

Bad breath in babies is not all about oral problems. It can also be a sign of other illness. If you or other people notice the change of your baby’s mouth odor, have your baby checked by health professional. Always remember that babies normally have sweet-smelling breath, therefore it is not difficult to notice if by any chance there is a change in your baby’s breath.