We brush our teeth every day, twice a day, and although we are taking special care of our teeth, it eliminates bad breath too. We all know how unattractive “morning breath” is, I do not greet my husband with early morning kisses until my teeth are brushed (and he has brushed his teeth too). Bad breath is embarrassing and repulsive, it is something we are all aware of, checking our breath before dates or before a big meeting at work. Even when my children were little they knew about bad breath, when I ask them if they have brushed their teeth, they would answer me by asking to smell their fresh breath. It was not the answer I wanted if they didn’t brushed their teeth and blew in my face!
Bad breath is also called halitosis or fetor oris and can cause unnecessary anxiety. We have all experienced a bout of bad breath, even if it is temporary, for instance after eating a meal that contains garlic, but an estimated 25 percent of people suffer from halitosis more frequently. You may be chewing gum, eating mints, or flushing your mouth out regularly with mouthwash, but these only offer temporary assistance and are laden with sugar and other chemicals that could be offering more harm to your body than good. These products only offer a temporary solution, they do not address the problem. So, what causes it, and what is the cure for bad breath?
What is bad breath?
When a noticeably unpleasant breath odor is present then we have what is known as bad breath or halitosis, which is often caused by “bad” bacteria. Depending on the cause, the specific odor expelled will be different. One way to check if you have bad breath is to lick your wrist, leave it to dry, and then smell it. A bad smell is likely to indicate that you have halitosis. Unlike “morning breath” or the lingering bad breath you get after eating strong-smelling food, halitosis remains for a long period of time and could be an indication of something more serious. If your quick-fix remedies only help the problem for a short burst of time, then something else could be triggering the halitosis that needs treatment.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath is estimated to affect 1 in 4 people around the world with the most common cause of halitosis being poor oral hygiene habits. Other causes of bad breath include the following:
1. Throat, nose, and mouth infection:
These sensory organs are interlinked with each other. If there is an infection or inflammation present in the nose, sinuses, or throat, then this will contribute to postnasal drip. Bacteria feed on mucous and a condition related to a nose or sinus infection will promote bacteria growth which will give you bad breath. Sometimes small bacteria covered stones can develop on the tonsils and produce a foul odor attributing to bad breath.
If you have had oral surgery, such as tooth removal, then the surgical wounds may also cause bad breath. Mouth infections from tooth decay, gum disease, or mouth sores will also contribute to bad breath.
2. Tobacco and smoking:
Those who smoke and use oral tobacco products are most likely to suffer from bad breath because they are more susceptible to gum disease which contributes largely to halitosis. Smoking alters the body’s response to the bacteria that is found in plaque and reduces the body’s ability to respond to the bacteria, this is what causes gum disease and attributes to bad breath. Tobacco products also leave their own odor on your breath (which is unpleasant) and they can dry out your mouth, which is another cause of bad breath.
Coated tongue is a condition that is aggravated by smoking and tobacco products. Coated tongue is when there is a layer of food particles, bacteria, and debris from epithelium tissue in the mouth: this layer causes bad breath.
3. Poor dental hygiene:
If we do not follow the correct oral hygiene habits, then food particles will stay behind in our mouth and cause bad breath. Prolonged poor dental hygiene will create the perfect environment for plaque build-up. The colorless, sticky film of bacteria that forms a layer on your teeth is known as plaque. If plaque is not brushed away daily then it will irritate the gums and form plaque-filled pockets in between your teeth and gums, known as periodontitis: another cause of bad breath. My mother would make me brush my tongue with my toothbrush, something I still do because the tongue can trap odor-causing bacteria, giving you bad breath.
4. Dry mouth:
Saliva is produced naturally by our bodies (when we are hydrated), which cleans the mouth and helps remove odor-causing bacteria. When the production of saliva decreases then a condition known as dry mouth or xerostomia can cause bad breath since there is less saliva to “wash-away” the bad bacteria. Dry mouth can occur naturally at night, during sleep: this is what causes “morning breath”. If you sleep with your mouth open, then the condition will become worse. Dry mouth can become a chronic condition if you have a problem with your salivary glands.
Onion and garlic can stay on our breath for up to 72 hours after consumption. After strong-smelling foods have been digested, their breakdown products are carried in the bloodstream to the lungs where they negatively affect our breath.
Hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, and other compounds associated with bad breath are known as volatile sulfur compounds or VSCs. These odor causing compounds are produced by microbes that live on small food particles and attach to the back of the tongue or get stuck in between the teeth when the food particles are broken down by the teeth during chewing. The oral bacteria that produces methyl mercaptan compound is the chemical that gives faeces its distinct foul smell, it is not the compound you want to be produced by food microbes caught in between your teeth!
Bad breath needs treatment
Bad breath may be an indication of something serious, and it may be your warning sign that other diseases or illness are present, if left untreated then it may lead to aggravated conditions or severity of the underlying disease that is triggering the bad breath, not to mention the embarrassment of having bad breath. The following are all disorders that may be causing bad breath and need to be addressed as soon as possible:
- – Postnasal drip
- – Sinus infection
- – Diabetes
- – Liver and kidney disease.
- – Blood disorder
- – Metabolic disorder
- – Respiratory and tonsil infection
- – Sometimes it may be a sign of cancer.
How to cure bad breath naturally
Below are some helpful options for natural treatments that you can use at home to cure bad breath:
This herb is a popular folk remedy for bad breath because its fresh scent and high content of chlorophyll offer an excellent deodorizing effect. Parsley can break down the foul sulfur compounds that cause bad breath.
Studies have shown that zinc works to decrease the number of sulfurous compounds that are causing bad breath. Include foods that are rich in zinc in your daily diet, such as whole grains, red meat, chickpeas, and nuts. You can also make your own mouthwash with zinc salts.
3. Vitamins A, C, and E
Research has shown that Vitamin C helps to increase saliva production, which helps wash away foul-smelling bacteria and eliminates bad breath. Vitamin C also helps limit the anaerobic bacteria that accumulates in the mouth and causes bad breath. Oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C.
Vitamin A can combat mouth infections and sores with its anti-inflammatory properties, quicker healing time will help prevent bad breath. Vitamin A can be found in fish oil and egg yolks. Vitamin E targets bad breath because it encourages the growth of healthy cells and improves the immune system to help fend off any odor-causing bacteria. Foods rich in Vitamin E include leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.
4. Apple cider vinegar
Vinegar contains a natural acid called acetic acid. An acidic environment is not favorable for bacteria to survive in. That makes a vinegar mouthwash perfect for the elimination of bacteria when used daily. To make your own mouthwash at home, mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with one cup of water. Gargle for 30 seconds before spitting it out.
Yoghurt contains “good” bacteria called lactobacillus which helps combat the bacteria that causes bad breath. Eat at least one serving of plain, non-fat yoghurt a day if you want to fight bad breath.
Prevention is always better than cure, if you can prevent bad breath before you have it, then you do not have to spend time worrying about an effective cure: that is the most ideal situation. The foods/substances that should be avoided include the following:
- – Garlic
- – Onion
- – Milk and Cheese
- – Canned Tuna
- – Horseradish
- – Coffee and Alcohol (they cause dry mouth and decrease saliva production, always follow a cup of coffee or alcohol with a glass of water)
We all want fresh breath!
If you have started to notice that your breath is not as fresh as it used to be then pay some extra attention to following a healthy daily dental routine and drink more water to help flush out your system of odor-causing bacteria. Make some adjustments to your diet by avoiding the foods that cause bad breath, such as garlic and onion, and add some more of the foods that help combat “bad” bacteria that aggravate certain conditions and cause bad breath. Foods rich in zinc, Vitamins A, C, and E will help combat the bacteria naturally. Get creative and make your own natural mouth wash with baking soda or apple cider vinegar. If the problem persists then it may be best to consult your doctor to make sure no underlying conditions are causing your bad breath.
Let me know by leaving a comment below which natural approach has helped you combat a smelly breath
Until next time