Halitosis (bad breath)
What is bad breath?
About 25% of all people suffer from chronic (long term) bad breath. Everyone else can also suffer from bad breath, but it is usually just the result of eating one of the "stinky" foods or not properly cleaning the mouth and teeth. The intensity of bad breath can vary during the day, depending on what you are eating, whether you are drinking sufficient water, and other factors discussed below.
Most bad breath originates in the mouth (85% - 90% of cases).
When you are sleeping during the night, your mouth is inactive and does not have a saliva flow, so the odour is usually worse upon awakening ("morning breath"). But this smell disappears after your saliva starts flowing again, you drink a glass of water, start talking, and have breakfast.
Halitosis can negatively affect your personal, social, and business relationships, leading to poor self-esteem and increased stress.
Do you have bad breath?
It is difficult to tell if you have bad breath by smelling your own breath, because your sense of smell is acclimatised to yourself. However, it is easy to detect bad breath in other people. Research has also suggested that self-evaluation of halitosis is not effective because of preconceived notions of how bad we think it should be. Some people assume that they have bad breath because of a metallic, sour, faecal, or other taste in their mouth, but bad tastes are not an effective indicator.
The simplest most effective way to discover if you have bad breath is to ask a trusted adult family member or very close friend ("confidant"). If the confidant confirms that you have a breath problem, he or she can help determine whether it is coming from the mouth or the nose. Later, they can confirm whether a particular treatment is effective or not.
Causes of temporary bad breath
- Stinky foods such as garlic, onion, chives, leeks (especially if these vegetables are raw), meat, fish and strong cheese
- A piece of rotting food may be lodged between the teeth - a toothpick or some dental floss can usually sort out the problem
- Lack of saliva - when there is insufficient saliva to irrigate the mouth. Ensure you are getting enough to drink, particularly pure water
- Acid reflux can bubble stomach contents up into the oesophagus / throat
Causes of chronic halitosis
- Bacterial imbalance in the mouth (80-90% is usually on the tongue). There are over 600 types of bacteria found
in the average mouth, of which several dozen can produce foul odours when incubated in the laboratory. Remember that bacteria
are always present in your mouth, nose, throat, digestive tract, skin, eyes and exposed parts of your body. They play numerous roles,
and are essential for good health. The problem is not the presence of bacteria,
but rather the imbalance of certain types of bad bacteria.
This bacterial imbalance can be caused by eating a high sugar, refined carbohydrate diet, dehydration, or poor mouth / teeth hygiene.
Antibiotics or antiseptic mouthwashes can destroy the good as well as the bad bacteria in your mouth, causing bacterial imbalance as they start to breed again without the competition of good bacteria.
- Gum disease.
- Tooth decay.
- Nose odour, usually caused by sinus infections or foreign bodies. Air from the nostrils has a pungent odour which differs from the mouth odour.
- weak digestion.
- Rhinitis / hay fever / post nasal drip.
- Tonsils (3-5% of cases). About 7% of the population have small bits of foul-smelling calcified matter lodged in the tonsils.
- Sinus or throat infection.
- In rare cases, liver disease, lung disease, diabetes, some cancers, renal infections, metabolic dysfunction and other systemic conditions.
Remedies for bad breath (good dental hygiene)
- Clean your teeth properly. It takes at least 10 minutes to clean your teeth properly. The good news is that you only need to do it
once per day. However, if there is food lodged between your teeth it is a good idea to get it out as soon as possible
by using floss or a tooth pick.
Here are detailed instructions on how to clean and look after your teeth properly.
- Clean your tongue. Gently clean it once or twice per day with a tongue scraper, or even a spoon. Cleaning can also be done with a toothbrush.
- Drink sufficient water.
- Avoid antiseptic mouthwashes, anti-bacterial rinses and sprays. Mints, mouth sprays, mouthwash and gum give you a quick and temporary mask of the odours created by the bacteria on the tongue. However, they do not cure bad breath because they do not remove the source. Anti-bacterial (antiseptic) sprays and mouthwashes destroy the good as well as the bad bacteria in your mouth. Without the good bacteria keeping symbiotic balance, you can become dependent on the use of these sprays to keep your mouth fresh-smelling. As you swallow these mouth-fresheners, they can do a lot of damage in your digestive tract, similar to antibiotics.
- Diet. The low sugar, low refined carbohydrate diet detailed in Grow Youthful is also perfect for healthy teeth.
- Probiotics, especially streptococcus salivarius K12.
- Chewing sugarless gum helps produce saliva. This helps with a dry mouth, or when you cannot clean your teeth after a stinky food meal.
- Chewing fresh parsley combats the bad breath, especially the smell of garlic. Fennel seeds and cinnamon sticks are also good.