Bad breath [halitosis, in medical parlance] is typically caused by poor dental hygiene and gum disease.
It may also be the result of throat infection, improper diet, indigestion, inadequate protein digestion, liver malfunction, post-nasal drip, stress, or imbalance of normal flora in the colon. Bad breath is, essentially, a symptom; it is not a disease.
Causes of bad breath
Bacteria found in the mouth accumulate mostly on the tongue towards the back and is one cause of bad breath. The anaerobic bacteria feed on food debris and then produce Volatile Sulphur Compounds [VSC]. These compounds have the smell of hydrogen sulphide, which smells like rotten eggs! Bad breath odour can also come from certain foods after they are digested and this odour can emanate from the lungs.
What you eat also affects the air you exhale. For example –
- Certain foods, such as garlic and onion, contribute to objectionable breath [bad odour]. Once the food is absorbed in the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is expelled
- Brushing, flossing and mouthwash will only mask the odour temporarily. Odours continue until the body eliminates the food
- Dieters may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating
- If you don’t brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath.
- Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue, and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odour.
Bad breath can also be caused by dry mouth [xerostomia] which occurs when the flow of saliva decreases. Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that may cause odour. Dry mouth may also be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth. If you suffer from dry mouth, your dentist may prescribe artificial saliva, or suggest using sugarless candy and increasing your fluid intake.
Things to do
- Maintain a high level of oral and dental hygiene. In addition to brushing, it is important to clean between the teeth using dental floss, wood sticks or an inter-dental brush
- Use a tongue cleaner and clean right to the back of the tongue
- Use a mouthwash recommended by your dentist. The best time to use it is just before sleeping
- Drink plenty of fluids; avoid too much coffee
- Clean your mouth after eating milk products, fish and meat
- Chew sugar-free gum, especially if your mouth feels dry
- Eat fresh, fibrous vegetables
- Visit your dentist regularly and have your teeth cleaned as and when required.
Home “Ammo” for Bad Breath
Avocado is far superior to any mouth lotion or remedies for this condition. It effectively removes intestinal putrefaction or decomposition – one of the most important causes of bad breath.
The use of fenugreek has proved most effective for bad breath. A tea made from the seeds of fenugreek should be taken regularly for correcting the condition. The tea is prepared by putting one teaspoon of seeds in half-litre of cold water and allowing it to simmer for 15 minutes over a low flame. It should thereafter be strained and used as tea.
Two cups of water should be boiled and several sprigs of parsley, coarsely chopped, should be steeped in this water along with two or three whole cloves or a quarter teaspoon of ground cloves. This mixture should be stirred occasionally while cooling. It should, thereafter, be strained and used as a mouthwash or gargle several times a day.
All fruit and vegetable juices are beneficial in the treatment of halitosis and should be taken liberally by those suffering from this disorder. Juices from green vegetables are especially useful.
A well-balanced diet
People suffering from bad breath should take a well-balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits, with emphasis on raw and cooked vegetables, and fruits. Also the avoidance of refined carbohydrate foods, such as white sugar; white bread and products made from them, as well as meat and egg is good for those who have bad breath.
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