Are You Among the More Than 80 Million People Who Suffer?
Bad breath (also known as halitosis or malodor) can be embarrassing and tough on those around you. Some people don’t realize their breath could peel paint because others are afraid to tell them. You don’t have to distance the people around you with smelly mouth odor.
Bad breath is often caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that causes inflammation and gives off noxious odors or gases that smell like sulfur — or worse.
Everybody has nasty breath at some point, like when you get out of bed in the morning.
Not sure if your breath is bad? The best way to find out is to ask a trusted friend or your significant other, “‘Does my breath smell?” Because it’s really hard to tell on your own. There’s also another way to know. It may seem a bit gross, but look at and smell your dental floss after you use it.
If your toothbrush or floss smells bad, then there are foul odors in your mouth.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Studies show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. For instance, cavities or gum disease can lead to bad breath, as can tonsils that have trapped food particles; cracked fillings, and less-than-clean dentures.
Several internal medical conditions also can cause your breath to go downhill fast. They include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. You’ll want to see your doctor to rule out things like acid reflux, postnasal drip, and other causes of chronic dry mouth (xerostomia).
If you’ve eliminated medical causes for your bad breath? Hit the kitchen for some bad breath battlers.
Try these Bites for Better Breath
Chew a handful of cloves, fennel seeds, or aniseeds. Their antiseptic qualities help fight halitosis-causing bacteria.
Chew a piece of lemon or orange rind for a mouth- freshening burst of flavor. (Wash the rind thoroughly first.) The citric acid will stimulate the salivary glands—and fight bad breath.
Chew a fresh sprig of parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro. The chlorophyll in these green plants neutralizes odors.
Rinse with a 30-second mouthwash that is alcohol-free (unike many off-the-shelf products). Mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda (which changes the pH level and fights odor in the mouth) and a few drops of antimicrobial peppermint essential oil. Don’t swallow it! (Yields several rinses.)
Moisten your mouth. You can get tooth decay and bad breath if you don’t make enough saliva. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day.
Crunch Your Way to Better Breath
Try this recipe from The Remedy Chicks (Linda B. White MD, Barbara H. Seeber and Barbara Brownell-Grogan) from EveryDayHealth.com.
Raw crunchy foods clean the teeth. Apples contain pectin, which helps control food odors and promotes saliva production. Cinnamon is antimicrobial. Active cultures in yogurt help reduce odor-causing bacteria in the mouth.
1 cup apple chunks
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup diced celery
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup crushed walnuts
3 to 5 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
PREPARATION AND USE: Mix the apple, carrot, celery, cranberries, and walnuts together in a large bowl. Add yogurt by the tablespoon to moisten the mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (Serves two.)
Avoid Foods That Sour Your Breath.
Onions and garlic are big offenders. But brushing after you eat them doesn’t help.
“The substances that cause their bad smells make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out,” says Richard Price, DMD, a spokesman for the American Dental Association.
The best way to stop the problem? Don’t eat them, or at least avoid them before you go to work or see friends.
Take Care of Your Mouth
Keep your teeth and gums healthy with regular oral care. Gum disease and tooth decay causes bad breath. Bacteria gather in pockets at the base of teeth, which creates an odor.
Brush your teeth twice a day.
Brush or scrape your tongue.
Visit your dentist.
The best way to make sure that you are maintaining good oral hygiene is to visit your dentist regularly. If you have chronic bad breath, you should visit your dentist first, to rule out any dental problems. Or, if your dentist believes that the problem is caused from a systemic (internal) source such as an infection, he or she may refer you to your family physician or a specialist to help remedy the cause of the problem.
Sources: ADA, Web MD, Delta Dental, EveryDayHealth.com