If you have bad breath, it can create a huge barrier with other people, whether it is in your personal or your professional life. Breathing in the foul smelling fumes emitted from another person’s mouth, can be a massive turnoff in any situation. Medieval people believed that bad odors coming from the mouth, actually carried the black plague and in our modern world, we seem to have inherited that instinct to recoil from such odors, even though we know they don’t represent a contagious disease.
What is Bad Breath?
Bad breath, also known as Halitosis, can be very embarrassing; it affects around 30% of the population worldwide. It’s a condition which is characterized by a foul oral odor. which comes from sulphur producing bacteria that breed beneath the surface of the tongue and in the throat area These are naturally occurring bacteria that live in the mouth and are there to help with digestion by breaking down proteins into amino acids.
Sulphur compounds are released from the back of the tongue and throat when the oral bacteria digest the protein in the food you are eating. The bacteria excrete their waste as methyl mercaptan, hydrogen sulphide and other foul smelling, bad tasting compounds known as volatile sulphur compounds. If these ‘anaerobic’ bacteria are left to feed on proteins and excrete their waste, your breath will get worse as time goes on.
Symptoms of Bad Breath
It can be difficult to know if you have bad breath; people are reluctant to point it out for fear of embarrassing the affected person. A good way to test your breath is to lick the inside of your wrist, then wait for around five seconds; you should then be able to smell the odor yourself.
Most symptoms of bad breath depend on an underlying cause. Many people who have bad breath can find it difficult to speak or swallow; this is because it can cause the mouth to dry out. They may also suffer from dry eyes or a burning sensation in the mouth and a sore throat, some individuals may have a fever, a cough that is persistent and swollen lymph nodes which can also suggest that they have a respiratory tract infection caused by bad breath.
So What Causes Bad Breath?
Poor oral hygiene is a major cause of bad breath; bacterial plaque can build up on teeth if they are not brushed regularly, or if the debris and germs are not removed from between the teeth, any bacteria that are left between the teeth and on the gums can lead to gum irritation called gingivitis.
There are some sulphur rich foods that can cause temporary bad breath, such as garlic and onions, not just by eating them, but also by altering the blood chemistry if too much is consumed. The nose and throat share the same common bacterial environment. Mucus can collect in the areas around the sinus and throat and can be the cause of ‘malodorous bacteria, which can give off a very unpleasant smell.
For some people, bad breath can be the result of problems further down the digestive tract; the odor is similar to the smell of a belch. It can be due to something as simple as eating food too quickly or it can be intolerance to certain foods. Poor or low stomach acid can cause bad breath and a poor digestive system along with a weak or impaired oesophagus can cause putrefied food to leak out of the stomach and back up the throat, resulting in foul smelling breath.
The gut bacteria are vital to a healthy digestive and immune system; they thrive in the small intestine, otherwise known as the small bowel. Complications can arise when there is an imbalance such as systemic inflammation and auto immune diseases, or food allergy and intolerance. Any abnormal growth of these bacteria will cause a pathogenic condition, which will result in bad breath from the gases they give off. No amount of oral hygiene will reduce or remove bad breath from intestinal issues or problems with your digestive tract.
There are some medical conditions that can cause persistent bad breath and some prescription medications which can break down in the body, causing bad breath from the chemicals they release
How to Treat Bad Breath
The treatment of bad breath depends upon its cause, most cases can be treated successfully, while some can be minimized with self-care techniques and home treatments.
Mouthwashes can be quite effective in the fight against bad breath but unfortunately, no matter how much you try to cover it up, they won’t treat the cause of the odor.
Mouthwashes will keep the breath smelling sweet and keep the mouth clean, but most of them contain alcohol so they can dry out your mouth and sinus tissues, which will only make the problem worse in the long run. If you use mouthwashes, look for those that are alcohol free.
2. Chewing Gum or Sucking Mints
You can stimulate your saliva flow and prevent your mouth from drying out by chewing gum or sucking mints, though it’s worth remembering that they are often made from a concoction of chemicals such as sweeteners and artificial flavors, which as we all know, can cause side effects such as headaches, digestive problems and allergies.
3. Eating Apples
Eating apples regularly will help to keep your mouth moist and help to remove bacteria.
4. Taking Vitamins
Taking vitamins C, D, E and B, will help the body to eliminate the excess toxins and mucus which can be responsible for bad breath.
5. Brush Your Teeth with Baking Soda
Oral bacteria thrive in an acidic environment, occasionally brushing your teeth with baking soda will help to neutralize those acids and reduce the odors that cause the breath to smell.
6. Avoid Processed Foods
Try to avoid processed foods that are full of refined carbohydrates, these can include sweets, cakes and ice creams. Change to fiber rich foods which can actually help to prevent bad breath.
7. Drink Less Coffee
Coffee leaves a smell which is hard to remove from the back of the tongue, so try drinking green tea or herbal tea now and again. Teas such as black or green tea contain polyphenols which help to eliminate sulphur compounds and reduce oral bacteria, so next time you fancy a ‘cuppa’, go for these teas instead of coffee or ordinary tea.
8. Cut Back on Certain Medications
Anti-depressants, antihistamines, pain relievers and diuretics can all dry out the mouth by inhibiting the flow of saliva. Unless it is an absolute necessity to take these types of medications, do try to avoid them if you have a problem with bad breath.
9. Brush Your Teeth After Eating Fish, Meat or Dairy Produce
Practice brushing your teeth after eating meals containing fish, meat or dairy produce. If that isn’t possible, then rinsing your mouth out with water after meals will help to prevent bad breath from occurring.
Drinking milk after meals will help to deodorize some of the odors, but don’t drink sugary drinks, they will stay on your teeth and only worsen the problem.
10. Stop Smoking
Smoking leaves a horrible odor on the breath, you can usually tell if a person is a smoker because of the stale tobacco smell they emit.
Chewing mints or gum to hide the smell will only mask it and not remove it. If you do smoke, it’s a good idea to try and quit, not only will it improve your health, but it will help in the fight against bad breath.
11. Cut Down on Alcohol
Try to cut down on the alcohol, it can cause a dry mouth, and it can affect your breath for up to 10 hours after drinking it.
12. Drink Plenty of Water
Keep your mouth lubricated and moist by drinking plenty of water and try to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth.
Can bad Breath be Eliminated Permanently?
A good place to start is to make sure you visit your dentist on a regular basis, every six months is usually recommended but don’t leave it any longer than a year before you have your teeth checked over.
Good oral hygiene and making good food choices are some of the best tools to have in the fight against bad breath. If you practice them on a regular basis, not only will you be able to fight bad breath but you will be able to eliminate it permanently.