Millions of Americans—perhaps as many as 85 million—have chronically bad breath, or halitosis. A billion-dollar industry of products designed to reduce or cover up mouth odour has emerged as a result of concerns about halitosis.
You can even take advantage of one of hundreds of “breath clinics” being offered all over the country. But the most effective steps involve simple oral hygiene.
Symptoms of Bad Breath
- Exhaled breath has an unpleasant odor.
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Bleeding gums
What Causes Bad Breath?
Bad breath has many causes, but often the underlying cause is the activity of bacteria in the mouth. Most cases of bad breath are due to the breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth, which can create foul-smelling gases. If you have healthy teeth and gums but still experience bad breath, it usually comes from the back region of the tongue, possibly because of postnasal drip to the tongue surface.Periodontal disease (inflammation of the gums) can also cause bad breath, as can a dry mouth, which contributes to halitosis because saliva helps keep bacteria in check. This helps explain “morning breath,” since the mouth dries out during sleep. High alcohol concentration mouthwashes can also dry out the mouth, which promotes the growth of bacteria. And certain medical conditions and medications can cause chronic dry mouth, or xerostomia.
Halitosis can also be caused by certain respiratory or gastrointestinal disorders as well as diabetes mellitus, chronic sinusitis or bronchitis, a liver or kidney ailment, and emphysema.
Other contributing factors include smoking, alcoholic drinks, and such foods as garlic and onions, which contain volatile oils that are absorbed into your bloodstream, carried to your lungs, and released in your breath.
What If You Do Nothing?
Most cases of bad breath are temporary, and if a particular food contributed to it, then the problem will clear up when you stop eating that food. But if you often have bad breath, you’ll need to take stronger measures like the self-care remedies that follow.
Mints and mouthwashes cannot treat the underlying issue; they can only temporarily reduce bad breath. Instead, implement these strategies.
- Brush more frequently. Brushing your teeth after each meal will improve most cases of mild bad breath. When you’re finished with your teeth, gently scrub the roof of your mouth and your gums.
- Clean your tongue. This can be one of the most effective steps for eliminating bad breath. The tongue’s microscopic hairs harbor plaque and food particles that can give rise to breath-fouling bacteria. In fact, microorganisms that ferment proteins and release unpleasant odours can coat the tongue. Therefore, brush the surface of the tongue when you finish with your teeth in order to dislodge the culprits, or else use a special plastic tongue scraper, sold in most pharmacies.Choose a brush with soft bristles; stroke from the rear of the throat (as far back as you can go without gagging) and gently brush outward. For better results, wet your brush with an effective mouthwash.
- Floss. Clean the spaces between your teeth at least once a day.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin C. After every meal, consume one vitamin C-rich fruit, such as lemons, oranges, or sweet limes, to help avoid bad breath. It can also make the teeth healthier.
- Get regular dental checkups. Have your dentist and/or a dental hygienist inspect and clean your teeth on a regular basis.
- Make a gargle rinse using dried pomegranate peels in water that has been boiled and then cooled. This remedy also can help treat mouth ulcers.
- Take care of dentures. Soak your dentures overnight in an antiseptic solution.
- If you smoke, quit. In addition to being linked with lung and other cancers, tobacco is a major cause of bad breath.
- Chew on dried coriander leaves. This is an effective remedy to bad breath caused by eating garlic and onions.
- Drink more water. Keeping your mouth moist will help disperse the bacteria living there. Drink at least eight glasses of water each day.
- Chew a piece of licorice or cardamom.
- Avoid foods that trigger bad breath. There are many common spices and foods that can cause bad breath. Anchovies, garlic, onions, and anything containing alcohol are obvious offenders.
- Drink unsweetened herbal tea..
The earliest of all mouth rinses, often known as mouthwashes, is just drinking water. The vast majority of over-the-counter mouthwashes are merely breath fresheners; they do little to combat plaque, the thin film that covers teeth and harbours bacteria that cause decay, and they don’t stop gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease.
- If you simply want temporary breath freshening, nearly any mouthwash will do. The effect lasts up to half an hour.
- Don’t overuse rinses. A tablespoon or two should do. For roughly 30 seconds, swish it around in your mouth. Never swallow rinses. Don’t eat or drink for half an hour after use.
- No mouthwash or other breath freshener can take the place of thorough flossing and brushing, as well as semiannual visits to the dentist.
Follow the measures listed above.
Beyond Natural Treatments: When To Call Your Doctor
Contact your dentist to see if gum or tooth disease is the cause of your bad breath if it doesn’t improve after trying the aforementioned suggestions. Also contact your dentist if your bad breath is accompanied by tooth pain. This may signal a cavity, a lost filling, or an abscess. If you have bad breath and your gums bleed often after brushing, this can be a sign of gum disease.
What Your Doctor Will Do
After taking a careful history to determine the possible causes of the odor, your dentist may recommend a mouthwash that has been shown to be effective in fighting bad breath. If the problem can’t be traced to a tooth or gum condition, particularly if you are maintaining good oral hygiene, then you should see a physician to check on the possibility of lung or gastric disorders or some other underlying medical condition.