The Dreaded Bad Breath? With Our Advice, Not Anymore.
At least once in a lifetime, everyone has experienced bad breath. It is a dreaded experience – it affects everyday life, personal relationships and people often lose their self-confidence. To make it worse, it is difficult to know if you have it because very few people will tell you. If you suspect you have bad breath, try to ask a trusted friend or your significant other if your suspicion is correct. Or simply smell your dental floss after you use it. If it smells, the answer is clear.
However, do not think it is only you. Many people suffer from bad breath, so it is no wonder that store shelves are overflowing with products (gums, mouthwashes, mints) designed to fight bad breath. But these products are only a temporary measure because they do not address the root of the problem.
Bad breath (halitosis) in most cases originates in your mouth, throat and tonsils and it is caused by the bacteria that lurk in these areas. For example, cavities, cracked fillings or gum disease can lead to bad breath, as well as dentures that are not entirely clean. Also, certain foods (onions, garlic, some vegetables and spices), health conditions (respiratory tract infections, liver disease, diabetes, and chronic bronchitis) and habits (smoking) are among the causes of bad breath.
So, let’s clarify the causes of bad breath one at a time:
Poor dental hygiene: If you do not brush and floss properly, food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. Plaque forms on your teeth and irritates your gums (this may cause gingivitis or in worse cases periodontitis). The tongue is also a hiding place for bacteria that produce bad breath. Also, if you do not clean your dentures properly, they also trap bacteria.
Dry mouth: Bad breath occurs when the production of saliva is decreased and such anaerobic environment is perfect for bacteria reproduction. It occurs naturally during sleep (the so called “morning breath”).
Mouth, nose and throat infections: Tooth removal, tooth decay and gum disease can also cause bad breath. Also, the bacteria in the tonsils, chronic nose, sinuses or throat inflammation also cause bad breath.
Medications: Bad breath is a consequence of certain medications because they cause dry mouth. Some medications, such as antidepressants, high blood pressure medications and antihistamines, release chemicals in your body that cause dry mouth and thus affect your breath.
Foods: The consumption of certain foods, such as onions and garlic, increases the risk of bad breath because they contain certain smelly ingredients. Also, dairy products, meat and fish contain proteins which “feed” the bacteria that cause bad breath. The same thing happens with refined and processed sugars, coffee and juices.
Other causes: Certain diseases (some cancers, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, HIV) and conditions (e.g. metabolic disorders, yeast infections of the mouth, respiratory tract infections) may cause breath odor because of the chemicals they produce. Dehydration and zinc deficiency are also common causes of halitosis.
Luckily, in most cases bad breath can be successfully treated. Bad breath treatment depends on its cause. Taking proper care of your teeth and visiting the dentist at least twice a year are the easiest ways to avoid breath problems. You should keep in mind that you cannot eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath from the tongue because the bacteria that cause bad breath are actually a natural part of your oral flora and they are absolutely necessary for a normal digestion.
A more effective method in fighting bad breath is to introduce oxidizing agents (certain mouthwashes and toothpaste) to your oral environment which will neutralize the bacteria’s production of smell. The bacteria that cause bad breath cannot survive when there is oxygen present. Some natural ingredients that have proven effective in fighting halitosis are green tea, xylitol, aloe vera and tea tree oil. For people who suffer from dry mouth, a saliva substitute is recommended.
Needless to say, proper oral care is absolutely essential. Brush and floss at least twice a day. Use mouthwashes and toothpaste with some of the above mentioned ingredients and stimulate your salivary flow. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in fiber is an excellent choice, e.g. an apple a day will remove the bacteria from your mouth and moisten the mouth, too. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B supplements are also recommended because they help your body detoxicate. Drink green and black teas. Avoid heavily processed foods like sweets, cookies and cakes. Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth hydrated. If you have dentures, clean them at least once a day.
Fighting halitosis is a long-term process, but it provides tangible results – your breath is finally fresh. And fresh breath makes you self-confident, relaxed and utterly happy.