dr dave

The shaggy part

You can’t tickle yourself. We doctors of the medical sort learned that in medical sort school when we were challenged to try and tickle ourselves. Couldn’t do it, so we made the best of it and just started tickling each other. Try it (on yourself). You will not succeed in making yourself laugh unless you happen to glance in a mirror while inhaling copious amounts of nitrous oxide. That often works, as we doctors of the medical sort happen to know.

In a similar vein, even though you breathe your own breath, it may not have the same effect on you that it does on others. You may not wilt, wither and whimper while others, downwind of your halitosis hurricane, react by turning away or start tickling themselves. 

Folks, sometimes your breath could knock a buzzard off a honey wagon. We medical sorts know. We have to get up close and intimate with our patients to peer in your peepers or glance up your nostrils and when bad breath is involved, this is an unpleasant experience, or so my patients tell me. 

Halitosis, a word actually coined by Listerine Inc. in the 1920’s. “Hey boys, let’s develop a disease, give it a little “osis” at the end and then cure it. We’ll make a mint, so to speak!” “Great idea Hal, what should we call it?”

I used to love shag as a kid. Long before Austin Powers, shag carpets were groovy and were of colors that I believe have now been banned in North America. My mother hated these carpets, knowing that they housed the likes of large dirt particles, a grow-op or possibly Jimmy Hoffa. Something would drop into the shag, never to be seen again. Often it would be hidden by something else that dropped into the shag on top of it, never to be seen again. 

What causes halitosis? Your filthy mouth, specifically your dirty tongue. More specifically, the shaggy part of your tongue at the back.

The front of your tongue is relatively smooth, smoother if you’ve just burnt it on your wife’s new French onion soup o’ death recipe. It gets a little less rough in the middle but the back of the tongue is a virtual forest of papillae, hair-like projections that grow off our tongue and whose sole purpose is to remove unwanted buzzards from nearby honey wagons. Like a shag carpet, the back of our tongue can hide many of the 600 different types of bacteria our mouth houses, including the 20 or so nasty anaerobes, whose sulfur emissions are in fact responsible for halitosis. 

The anaerobes sink deep into the shag and then get protected there by a coating of mucous, more bacteria and that scalding cheese from the French onion soup o’ death. To make matters worse, the long papillae in the back of the tongue fold over, like a bad combover, and further protect these nasty anaerobes.  Being anaerobes, oxygen kills them, but in the back of the tongue, protected by a lovely layer of mucous and stuff, the anaerobes whoop it up, have a party and release sulphur which you in turn pass on to the doctor’s sensitive nostril as he peers into your eye trying to save your life or whatever.

Three steps to be rid of halitosis. 

First, give your tongue a haircut. Really. A tongue scraper or even an inverted spoon scraped along the back of the tongue will help unfold and trim those long papillae. Then open up the hairs and remove the upper layer of mucous and stuff with a tongue brush, not a toothbrush (not fine enough). 

Finally, kill the bacteria and/or neutralize the sulphur compounds by means of something like half strength hydrogen peroxide (which does both) or even Listerine, a good probiotic gum, chlorine dioxide (which sounds evil but is very effective if you can get it) or even added oxygen in the form of a spray. To anaerobes, oxygen is a killer, much like to a doctor, your breath can be. 

So if you normally have buzzard-beater breath, then try and fix it before you breathe on your doctor next time. He’ll be tickled you did.   

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