Bad breath affects 30% of the world’s population and it can significantly reduce confidence in an individual. It affects a person’s mental well-being and can make him or her self-conscious, thus affecting their personal and social life. Let’s talk about how we can get rid of bad breath.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, in more than 90% of cases, the odor originates in the mouth, throat, and tonsils. Bad breath is medically known as ‘Halitosis’ and is characterized by an unpleasant odor in the mouth (1).
It is an easily treatable condition if proper oral hygiene measures are undertaken and followed. ‘Halitosis’ in some cases is a chronic condition as well. Home remedies or medicine the dentist prescribes can control it.
It is difficult to smell our own breath so one of the best ways to find out about offensive breath is to lick the inside of your wrist, wait five seconds, and then take a whiff.
The odor causing bacteria lives mainly in one of three places:
- On the teeth.
- Under the gums.
- On or under the tongue.
Here is a list of symptoms, causes, and remedies for coping with bad breath and diminishing it.
Symptoms of ‘Halitosis’/Bad Breath:
- Undesirable odor in the mouth region.
- White coating on the tongue or a dry mouth.
- Sores on the tongue or inner cheeks.
- Change in color of teeth and tongue.
- White spots on tonsils.
Causes of ‘Halitosis’/Bad Breath:
- Consumption of food like garlic, onion, and other spices can affect one’s breath. Food breaks down in the teeth area and it can increase bacteria which causes the foul odor. Refined foods and sugar can cause bacteria in the mouth to be overfed, which sets off an odor.
- Smoking is also a trigger for bad breath and oral tobacco users have a higher chance of gum disease which is another source of unpleasant breath (2). This habit can also result in cancer which also contributes to a stench in the breath and requires a more elaborate implementation of treatment.
- Due to any kind of infection in the mouth, throat or gum area, there can be bacteria build up or use of certain medicines which can directly affect breath and its odor. Other diseases like cancer, diabetes or chronic reflux of stomach acids can copiously add to such a condition.
- Breathing through the mouth dries out the surface which harbors the odor-causing bacteria in and around the teeth and tongue. Avoid mouth breathing and, in case of nasal congestion, use a decongestant.
- Tonsil stones can cause reeking breath. These lumps of calcified food, mucus, and bacteria collect in the tonsils and appear as white spots. They are often mistaken as a throat infection such as strep-throat, although sometimes they are too small to be visible in a mirror. Visiting a doctor for tonsil check-ups can help.
- Long gaps between meals can lead to a dry mouth which becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Oral dryness is also known as ‘Xerostomia’. It is often associated with hypofunction of the salivary glands. This causes the mouth to stink.
- Poor oral hygiene can disrupt the healthy flow of saliva and cause food particles to stick to your teeth. This causes plaque formation which irritates the surface of the gums and teeth leading to odor and cavities as well. The tongue should be cleaned as well because it has the capacity to trap odor-causing bacteria. Unclean dentures can significantly contribute as well.
Tips to Get Rid of Bad Breath:
- Practicing regular oral hygiene is an essential tool to cope with bad breath and to abate it completely (3).
Oral hygiene includes:
- Brushing twice a day with fluoride or tea-tree oil based toothpaste to remove debris and plaque.
- Usage of anti-bacterial mouth-wash after every meal (4).
- Replacing toothbrush after every two months.
- Scraping and scrubbing the tongue after every meal to ensure removal of taste and odor.
- Visiting the dentist once in six months to examine the conditions of the mouth.
- Stop smoking and chewing tobacco as these habits agitate oral hygiene and conditions. Addiction to tea or caffeine also generates odor so minimizing the intake of it can help to an extent.
- Chew hard candy and sugarless gum to keep the mouth from drying out. Proper flow of saliva is important to stay odor-free. Sometimes artificial saliva is prescribed by the dentist for people suffering from chronic odor issues.
- Foods that require a lot of chewing such as apples, broccoli, grapes, and carrots are a good source of stimulation for the production of saliva. Vitamin-C rich edibles have a good reputation for remarkably lowering the levels of stinking breath.
- Eating at regular intervals keeps the mouth cavity from drying thus channeling a steady flow of saliva.
- Probiotic yogurt helps in stabilizing the oral flora by adding good bacteria in the mouth cavity. This wards away the odor-causing bacteria.
Natural remedies for bad breath include:
- Chewing mint leaves or parsley twice day. The nutrients from these herbs clean one’s palate.
- Sucking on a clove will help in masking odor as it is rich in ‘eugenol’, a potent anti-bacterial agent. Grind it coarsely and mixed with boiling tea leaves. Ingest it as regular tea.
- Chewing fennel, dill, cardamom, or star anise seeds can help immensely in combating bad breath. They help in regulating the flow of saliva. Anise, which tastes like black licorice, can kill the bacterium that grows on the tongue, thus reducing odor. Chewing a fresh sprig of basil or cilantro can also help as the chlorophyll in these green plants neutralizes odors.
- Drinking adequate amount of water and fresh juices will help hydrate the body thus keeping the breath fresh. The water addresses the tiny microbes in the mouth which helps in diluting the bad bacteria.
- Fenugreek tea is highly recommended when bad breath issues surfaces. A handful of fenugreek seeds should be boiled in water with tea leaves and strained. This tea acts as a natural disinfectant. This should be consumed twice a day to achieve quick results (5).
- Use lemon rinse to cure the stench in the breath. The acidic content in lemons prevents bacterial growth in the mouth cavity. The strong pleasant smell helps mask the bad odor.
- Basil leaf-infused water can aid in tackling repulsive breath because of its robust aromatic properties. It can also be brewed with hot water and tea leaves for consumption (6).
- Sip green tea at intervals. This assists in cleaning the mouth and is known as a popular palate cleanser.
About the Author:
Martha Daniels is a health expert and has contributed to a variety of health and fitness websites. Her major interests include issues related to women’s health and infant mental health.