Causes Of Bad Breath

Causes Of Bad Breath Fitchburg | Dentistry By Design PC | Dentist FitchburgEverybody gets bad breath at times. But for people with chronic bad breath, it can indicate something more serious, like gum disease or a tooth infection. Brian C. McDowell, DDS can help treat the underlying causes of bad breath so you can enjoy fresh breath and a clean taste in your mouth. If you are looking to treat chronic bad breath in Fitchburg, call our dentist, Dr. Brian McDowell at call (978) 252-2049. Schedule regular dental exam and teeth cleaning appointments to help prevent causes of bad breath.

What Causes Bad Breath?

It’s important to distinguish between short-term lousy breath and chronic bad breath. Short-term bad breath occurs because of food residue in your mouth releasing scent molecules or decomposing. This odor can worsen if you are dehydrated because you’re not drinking water, too much coffee, or alcohol. Just brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth should be enough to handle your bad breath. But Don’t forget to brush your tongue, and don’t use mouthwash with alcohol. It can dry your mouth, leading to more bad breath even if it conceals the smell for a while. Conversely, Chronic bad breath may be a sign of something more serious. Causes include:
  • Acid reflux
  • Gum disease
  • Infected tooth
  • Tonsil stones
  • Retained food
  • Dry mouth
  • Medications and diet
  • Sleep apnea (mainly linked to morning bad breath)

Oral Bacteria & Bad Breath

The most common reason Fitchburg patients have chronic bad breath is bacteria buildup. Some oral bacteria “breathe” oxygen as we do, and they produce odorless waste gasses. Others use sulfur, which give off waste gasses that have a robust and rotten smell. The bacteria that use sulfur like to gather in areas where they are sheltered from oxygen. These regions include the spaces between your teeth, the area between your gumline and teeth, the core of an infected tooth, and the interior of tonsil stones. Tonsil stones are gatherings of bacteria and food residue in your tonsils. They occur when you have many bacteria in your mouth.

Food Stuck Between Teeth

Sometimes food debris gets stuck in your teeth. When this occurs, the odor from rotting food can cause bad breath. If your food regularly gets stuck in your mouth, it could be because of crooked teeth or tooth gaps that are likely to trap food. If you have gum disease or cavities, food can get trapped between your teeth and gums. Our Fitchburg dentist, Dr. Brian McDowell will examine where food gets trapped in your mouth and discuss a treatment plan that may include gum disease treatment, tooth fillings, or Invisalign.

Dry Mouth & Medications

One crucial step to try to control the bad breath is staying hydrated. Suppose you are getting enough water, but your body isn’t producing enough saliva. In that case, our dentist at Brian C. McDowell, DDS, will recommend saliva replacements that help your mouth remain wet and hydrated. Unfortunately, a dry mouth also is a side effect of some medications. So, if you experience chronic dry mouth and are not dehydrated, check to see if it’s related to your prescriptions.

Schedule A Consult For Bad Breath Solution

Call our Fitchburg dentist at (978) 252-2049 to schedule an appointment to discuss the causes of bad breath and a treatment plan. Our dentist has over 30 years of experience treating bad breath for patients from Fitchburg, Leominster, Westminster, Gardner, MA and other many surrounding areas.

How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Body

How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Body Fitchburg | Brian C. McDowell DDS | TMJ Specialist FitchburgYou or someone you know may snore while sleeping. You may find yourself wondering why your husband or wife snores so loud? While most people regard snoring as a natural bodily function, it could also indicate other health complications. Snoring is the first sleep apnea indicator, a condition that develops when your airway is blocked while sleeping. Unfortunately, your body and brain fail to receive the proper oxygen needed to restore your body and prepare for the next day. With advanced training and over 30 years of experience, patients trust the expertise of Dr. Brian McDowell for sleep apnea evaluation in the Fitchburg area.

What happens when you have sleep apnea?

During the night, sleep apnea sufferers in the Fitchburg area may experience brief but frequent interruptions in breathing due to a sleep-related respiratory condition. Extreme occurrences have been documented, with individuals stopping breathing dozens or more times per hour. Our Fitchburg sleep apnea specialist will explain that although several sleep apnea forms exist, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is by far the most prevalent. In OSA cases, the airway becomes physically blocked during sleep, which causes snoring and is a predominant symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Excessive daytime sleepiness, awakenings in the middle of the night with gasping or choking sounds, morning dry mouth, sore throat, and headaches are some symptoms often associated with sleep apnea. Because of the interconnected nature of your oral and general health, this illness may have far-reaching consequences, especially if untreated.

Sleep Apnea Impact On Teeth and Gums

Sleep apnea may lead to many dental problems. When a person has sleep apnea, they often have to breathe through their mouth all night, which can cause dry mouth. In dry mouth conditions, bacteria can run rampant and cause extensive damage to tooth enamel. As a result, Fitchburg patients may have bad breath or plaque buildup, putting them at greater risk for gingivitis and periodontal gum disease. In addition, our Fitchburg sleep apnea dentist share more conditions sleep apnea may contribute to: • Damaged enamel • Lip and mouth ulcers • A surge in tooth decay • Scalloped-edge tongue • Grinding teeth causing excessive wear and tear

Sleep Apnea Impact On Overall Health

Those suffering from sleep apnea may have lower oxygen levels than usual. As a result, you may experience increased heart rate and blood vessel constriction as your body reacts to the stress. Several heart problems may result from a lack of oxygen, including hypertension, an elevated heart rate, inflammation, and stress on the heart. Additionally, sleep apnea may cause a variety of significant health problems, including but not limited to a stroke, hypertensive disorders, heart attack, asthma, or COPD. Since sleep apnea may cause other severe illnesses, we suggest that you schedule an appointment with our dentist in Fitchburg as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms. Contact Brian McDowell, DDS, for an evaluation and testing for proper diagnosis to begin controlling the the effects of sleep apnea.

Schedule A Sleep Apnea Evaluation

If you notice any signs of sleep apnea, schedule a consultation with our advanced-trained Fitchburg dentist, Dr. Brian McDowell for a sleep apnea evaluation at 978-252-2049. For over 30 years, Dr. McDowell has helped patients in the Fitchburg and surrounding areas such as Leominster, Westminster, and Gardner, MA relieve sleep apnea symptoms with oral appliance therapy.

Connection Between Dental Implants and TMJ

Connection Between Dental Implants and TMJ | TMJ Specialist Fitchburg | Brian C McDowell DDSThese two dentistry topics may seem to have little to do with each other, but the truth is that TMD and dental implants are closely interconnected. Our dentist, Brian C. McDowell, DDS is an advanced TMJ Specialist in Fitchburg, and he will explain the connection between Dental Implants and TMJ and how each treatment affects the other.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a safe, innovative way to replace lost teeth. They consist of a metal post secured to the jawbone after a tooth is lost or extracted. During a short healing period, your bone fuses with the dental implant. Once healed, our cosmetic and restorative dentist, Dr. Brian McDowell will place a crown to replace the missing tooth and blend naturally with your natural teeth.

There are advantages of having dental implants over traditional tooth replacements. These dental implant benefits include comfort, safety, convenience, and functional considerations. For example, with dental bridges or dentures, there is no structure under the surface to replace the tooth’s root. As a result, the jaw can become weak and misaligned.

What is TMD?

TMD stands for temporomandibular disorder. It is commonly referred to as TMJ because it is a problem with the temporomandibular joint. This joint is the hinge that attaches your jawbone to your skull, allowing you to open and close your mouth. Disorders of this joint can cause:

  • Pain and soreness of the teeth or jaw
  • Headaches & Earaches
  • Clicking, popping, or locking of the jaw
  • Tooth grinding
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness of the fingers

Aside from affecting your quality of life, some symptoms, including teeth grinding, can even lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

What Does TMD Have to Do With Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a potential treatment and even a preventative measure against TMD. Here is why they work, along with answers to other frequently asked questions about dental implants and TMD.

Can I Get Dental Implants with TMJ/TMD?

The short answer is yes. Many patients with TMD are candidates for dental implants. Most of the symptoms of TMD do not affect your ability to get implants. The exception is teeth grinding, which may contribute to implant failure. If you show signs of tooth grinding, we can discuss ways to prevent it.

Can Dental Implants Improve TMJ/TMD

Dental implant treatment may significantly improve TMJ/TMD and prevent it from happening over other restorative tooth replacement methods. In addition, because dental implants are anchored to the jaw, they mimic your lost tooth’s root, maintaining the structural stability of your jaw and preventing misalignment that can lead to TMD.

Other Benefits of Dental Implants On Tooth Health

Dental implants improve your ability to chew naturally and efficiently. As such, you compensate less for missing teeth. This benefit also has the potential to decrease your risk of TMD.

Furthermore, implants lower your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. Empty sockets where teeth are not replaced can collect bacteria, making neighboring teeth and gums more susceptible.
Another benefit is that dental implants prevent additional tooth loss. As we mentioned, a cavity in the jaw bone can result in poor jaw structure, leading to a deterioration of the bone. In addition, the otherwise healthy teeth next to a lost tooth can weaken, increasing the risk that they, too, will be lost.

Schedule A Consultation At Brian McDowell, DDS

Call our Fitchburg dentist at 978-252-2049 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Brian McDowell. With our over 30 years of advanced training, we treat many patient for TMJ from Fitchburg, Leominster, Westminster, Lunenburg, MA and many surrounding areas.

Tooth Pain Dental Emergency

Is Tooth Pain a Sign of a Dental Emergency?

Tooth Pain Fitchburg | Emergency Dentist | Brian McDowell DDSYou’re relaxing at home when you suddenly feel significant pain or discomfort in one of your teeth. Do you need to call the dentist immediately? Or can you wait for the pain to subside? Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether tooth pain is genuinely urgent, but if it is, you can’t wait too long to call your emergency dentist for help. So, here’s what you need to know to decide when your tooth pain or toothache is a dental emergency.

What Causes Tooth Pain?

First, you must realize that there’s not just one possible cause of tooth pain. It could be the result of any number of oral health problems, including:

  • Physical trauma, such as a blow to the face
  • Arthritis of the jaw
  • Untreated infection in a specific tooth
  • Repeated grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • An untreated cavity
  • Sinus infection
  • Impacted wisdom teeth

All these issues require professional care. Even if you don’t think you need treatment right away, call our Fitchburg dentist, Dr. Brian McDowell to schedule an dental exam for proper diagnosis.

When Is Tooth Pain An Emergency?

A toothache is an emergency if it lasts more than one or two days or if the pain worsens. These symptoms usually mean you have an advanced cavity or tooth infection, and such problems will only worsen if left alone for too long. The sooner you get treatment, the more likely you are to be able to save the tooth in question.

You should consider tooth pain an emergency if it’s linked to any visible dental damage, such as a cracked tooth. Broken enamel can’t heal independently, leaving the tooth vulnerable to infection. Hence, it needs to be repaired as quickly as possible.

What To Do If You Have Tooth Pain

Your first step should always be to call our Fitchburg emergency dentist, Dr. Brian McDowell, and explain your symptoms. Our dentist will be able to help you figure out whether you need emergency dental care. We will also give you first-aid tips so that you can prevent the problem from getting any worse until you are able to see the dentist.

While you’re waiting for your emergency dental appointment, you can control tooth pain at home by:

  • Holding a cold pack over the pain.
  • Rinsing your mouth with salt water regularly.
  • Using over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce your discomfort.

Contact Our Emergency Dentist Today!

Call our emergency dentist in Fitchburg at 978-252-2049 if you are experiencing tooth pain and feel it may be a dental emergency. It is always better to be safe when it comes to your oral health, so don’t hesitate to call our dental team right away! With over 30 years of experience, we have treated many dental emergencies for patients from Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Gardner, MA, and many surrounding areas.

Why Is My Jaw Popping & Clicking?

Why Is My Jaw Popping & Clicking?

Suppose you’re experiencing a jaw-popping sensation whenever you chew, talk, or yawn. In that case, it may be from your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Jaw popping pertains to a clicking sound every time you engage your jawbone, which can be followed by discomfort or pain sensations. If you experience jaw popping or jaw clicking, schedule a consult with our TMJ specialist in Fitchburg, Dr. Brian McDowell, to see if TMJ treatment is the course of the popping or clicking.

How TMJ Works

Dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint typically causes jaw popping. This particular joint is one of the most complex joints in your body, connecting your lower jaw to the temporal bones, allowing it to move side to side and back to front.

The temporomandibular joint allows you the range of motion needed to chew food, speak, and yawn. Facial muscles attached to this joint control these movements, while a soft cartilage disc within the joint socket absorbs large amounts of pressure preventing damage.

Causes Jaw Popping

The jaw-popping sensation can result from trauma, dislocation, or a displaced disc. Clenching jaw, grinding teeth (bruxism), or chewing gum too often can also cause pain and tightness within the facial muscles, especially if missing or misaligned teeth exist. Jaw popping, in most cases, may not be a cause for concern; however, we recommend you schedule a TMJ evaluation with our advanced-trained TMJ doctor at our dental practice, Brian C. McDowell, DDS in Fitchburg.


Both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis may cause damage to the cartilage of the TMJ. Loss of cartilage means there is a law of absorption in the joint socket every time the jaw moves, causing a pain sensation to follow.

Other symptoms include:

  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Inflammation or swelling
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue

Injury or trauma to the jaw

Any injury sustained from a road traffic collision, sporting accident, trip or falls, or physical assault may result in a dislocated or broken jaw. This break or unhinging of the joint can result in jaw clicking or popping. We recommend seeking medical attention immediately if you’re experiencing pain, bruising, or swelling.

Myofascial pain syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder that causes pain in the trigger points of some muscles. It occurs when the muscle is contracted repetitively, or pressure is applied. It is prevalent in those who have jobs or engage in sporting activities that require repetitive movements.

TMJ symptoms for someone who has MPS include:

  • Jaw pain doesn’t get better after a week
  • Jaw pain that gets worse with straining or stretching
  • Painful knots in muscles
  • Reduced range of motion in the affected area

Sleep apnea

Jaw popping can result from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). Studies have shown that when the throat begins to relax before an episode of OSA, the jaw will clamp down to prevent the airway from being blocked. However, this clamping of the jaw applies excessive stress on the jaw, mouth, neck, and shoulders, which may cause TMJ issues.


Infection of the salivary gland can cause TMJ issues, jaw popping, and other symptoms, including dry mouth, face pain, pus in the mouth, foul taste, and swelling of the face and neck. If you suspect you may have an infection, you should consider medical treatment immediately.

Schedule A Consultation At Brian McDowell, DDS

Call our TMJ specialist today at (978) 252-2049 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Brian McDowell. With our over 30 years of advanced-training, experience, and leading-edge technology, we help patients with jaw clicking and jaw popping issues from Fitchburg, Leominster, Westminster, Gardner, Lunenburg and many surrounding areas.

11 Things to Know About Sleep Apnea

#1: There are CPAP Alternatives

For many years, the treatment of choice for sleep apnea was a CPAP—continuous positive airway pressure—machine. With CPAP therapy, patients strap a mask around their heads and over their mouths and nose, delivering constant mild air pressure while sleeping. However, many patients fail to use the CPAP machine nightly because it is bulky, uncomfortable, and noisy. Fortunately, there are CPAP alternatives for patients in Fitchburg to depend on to help them get a whole night’s sleep.

#2 Dental Sleep Appliances Do Work

Dr. McDowell can prescribe a custom oral sleep appliance. A comfortable oral appliance slightly shifts your lower jaw forward and helps to maintain an open airway that does not become blocked. Another solution for sleep apnea is a tongue-stabilizing sleep device. This device is a simple splint worn while you sleep to prevent your tongue from blocking the airway. Furthermore, this type of treatment has been proven effective in snoring cessation.

#3: Sleep Apnea & Acid Reflux could be Related

Eighty percent of people diagnosed with acid reflux report heartburn occurring primarily at night. What happens when patients lie down to sleep at night? You guessed it – the stomach acids flow backward.

#4 There are Links between Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Do you know someone who snores? Snoring may disturb the sleep of the snorer and the people closest to them. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) only affects about half of all snorers, while the other half are considered primary snorers. Therefore, frequent, and loud snoring is not always an indication of Obstructive Sleep Apnea; however, many patients with OSA have a chronic snoring problem.

Snoring Disorder Causes

Snoring occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes and partially blocks your airway—resulting in the soft tissues vibrating as you sleep. Some causes of snoring include a patient’s genetic predisposition, anatomy, and behavioral factors such as weight gain, alcohol consumption, and sleep position.

#5 A Consultation Could Save Your Life

One of the first indicators of OSA is loud, frequent snoring. People with OSA could stop breathing for a few seconds to a minute or more. You should seek OSA treatment if you experience habitual loud snoring, gasp, or choke during sleep, or stop breathing. Additionally, seek treatment if you experience excessive restlessness at night or feel fatigued during the day.

#6 The Health Risks of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea that is left untreated may affect everyday activities. You may experience chronic headaches, depression, acid reflux, adult-onset asthma, weight gain, and other severe medical conditions. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart Problems (heart failure, irregular heartbeats, heart attacks)
  • Type 2 Diabetes

#7 Sleep Apnea Symptoms

It is often difficult to determine if you are suffering from a sleep disorder because most symptoms occur at nighttime while you are asleep. However, if you notice any of the following, it is crucial to see a sleep apnea specialist like Dr. Brian McDowell in Fitchburg, MA.

  • Loud, frequent snoring
  • Gasping for breath
  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • Depression and irritability
  • Frequent waking at night

#8 Obesity and Sleep Apnea

Excessive weight gain can cause or worsen Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), especially if the weight is on or around the face. If fact, sleep apnea might be a predictor of obesity. If your BMI places you in the “obese” range, or if you have any sleep apnea symptoms, schedule a consultation with Dr. Brian McDowell, a sleep apnea specialist.

#9 Sleep Apnea Can Have Many Complications

A few sleep apnea complications include:

  • Hypertension and heart disease
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Surgery complications
  • Liver consequences
  • Unhappy sleep partners
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Memory issues
  • Impotence

#10: Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure

Sleep apnea studies have shown that patients with sleep apnea have a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure in the future.

There are two types of sleep apnea; obstructed sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. The most common being obstructive sleep apnea. Both types of sleep apnea cause sleep disruption throughout the night.

Frequent awakenings during the night can cause changes in the hormonal systems, which sometimes result in high blood pressure levels. Another contributing factor to hypertension is the frequent cutoff of oxygen, resulting in low blood-oxygen levels.

#11: Schedule A Sleep Apnea Consultation

Contact our team at (978) 343-4031 to schedule a personalized consultation to be evaluated for Sleep Apnea, Snoring, and TMJ/ TMD. With over 30 years of experience, Dr. Brian McDowell continues to care for sleep apnea patients from Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner, Lunenburg, and many surrounding areas.