We are all aware of how important bacteria are for the treatment of wounds, periodontal disease, and foul breath. But are you aware of the secret adversary? The one that bacteria exude to aid in their own success? Like all other living things, bacteria must consume food in order to thrive. They have to use the restroom after eating. Volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) are emitted and exist uncontrolled in the mouth. VSCs are connected with poor breath because they smell, but they are also poisonous to your tissue, encourage bacterial assaults, and slow the healing of wounds. As a result, they play a significant role in infections, periodontal disease, and the impairment of gingival repair.
If you are familiar with VSCs, you have probably heard of them in relation to bad breath. The unpleasant scent that we detect on patients' breath is due to VSCs. As dental professionals, we are expected to provide a remedy for this since it is the most common patient complaint. Patients who suffer from bad breath find it disruptive to their everyday lives and spend more than $1 billion annually on halitosis solutions. They frequently experience embarrassment and frustration since they have tried every over-the-counter remedy without success. This is because the majority of these products either target bacteria only or attempt to cover up the odor. Eliminate bacteria and VSCs from your mouth to combat foul breath.
Toxic to the Tissue
VSCs are hazardous to tissue, even at low concentration levels. VSCs are directly harmful to periodontal tissue, according to studies. Everyone has encountered a patient whose periodontal disease is immediately apparent as they enter the room. In dentistry, we occasionally get things backwards: the smell (VSCs) is what truly causes periodontal disease, not the other way around.
Bacteria excretions and death cause VSCs, which make the cell wall easier for bacteria to move through and essentially allow a bacterial assault on the already compromised tissues. Given that both hard and soft tissues are affected, the presence of VSCs speeds up the transformation of gingivitis, the initial infection, into full-blown periodontitis. The longer VSCs go uncontrolled, the more damage they are able to do, and they actually have a multiplier effect that can worsen periodontal disease.
Impede Wound Healing
There are numerous hypotheses regarding how VSCs hinder wound healing. Some contend that they stop oxygen from reaching the site, while others assert that they promote collagen degradation. What is certain is that there is a connection between VSCs and inadequate healing. Numerous studies have shown that reducing VSCs helps speed up the healing process. For those of us in dentistry, the particular problem is getting wounds to heal in a setting that isn't really conducive to healing. The mouth is the ideal environment for VSC proliferation and microbial development.
It goes without saying that we must address VSCs in order to combat bad breath, periodontal disease, and infections while promoting gingival repair.
Therefore, the greatest strategy to aid in bad breath, give appropriate tissue management, and shorten healing time is to regulate the bacteria and VSCs. The placement of VSCs makes removal difficult. They are typically found in places where patients frequently forget to brush and floss and miss them altogether. The regions with the largest levels of bacteria and, consequently, VSCs are the interproximal regions, the back of the tongue, and periodontal pockets. Without introducing something therapeutic, we can't effectively remove VSCs since brushing and flossing only mechanically remove debris.
One of the most popular VSC removers has been shown to be activated chlorine dioxide. This is due to the fact that it is a gas that directly interacts with gaseous VSCs in the mouth. Additionally, this chlorine dioxide gas can get to those tricky-to-reach places that are typically neglected. It has to come from a two-bottle system because you must activate that gas with each use. Single bottle systems that advertise themselves as chlorine dioxide are actually just sodium chlorite and do not remove VSCs as quickly as actual activated chlorine dioxide. When selecting a product to combat volatile sulfur compounds, keep that in mind.
In conclusion, it is well known that microorganisms thrive in the mouth. We must choose products that destroy germs as well as the hidden enemy known as VSCs.
Kristin Goodfellow RDH
Kristin is Chief Clinical Officer of OraCare, a practicing Registered Dental Hygienist