Halitosis - How to Cure Bad Breath Naturally
When you walk in the isles of supermarkets, you probably notice the many different fresh breath products available for purchase. Usually, these are mouthwash, gels, sprays, scrapers, lozenges, gums, etc.
Most of these products aim to treat bad breath, medically known as halitosis.
Research shows that 1 in 4 people worldwide struggle with it. That’s why it’s crucial to talk about it.
Halitosis is not only a matter of oral health; it also causes embarrassment, stress, and anxiety.
Many of the products you find in supermarkets are only temporary measures. They seem to cure lousy breath temporally, but not what is causing it. Bad breath is commonly caused by dental problems and, less frequently, by other medical conditions.
Let's discuss symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and, most importantly, treatment for halitosis problems.
Halitosis Symptoms and Causes
The main halitosis symptom is smelly breath that does not go away. The odor is sometimes strong enough that other people notice it. Other symptoms include white deposits on the tongue, round deposits on the tonsils, dry mouth, thick saliva, and a metallic, sour taste in the mouth.
Chronic halitosis can negatively affect your life in many ways; people may move away from you when you speak and treat you in a way you don't deserve. That is why it leads to anxiety and depression.
Occasional bad breath, like the one you smell when you wake up before brushing your teeth, is not halitosis. It can result from the food you ate the previous evening.
Halitosis is a chronic disease that does not go away no matter what you eat or how and when you brush your teeth.
Halitosis is often caused by food fermentation by bacteria in the mouth, which creates volatile sulfur compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide and mercaptan metal. The bacteria can be found in diseased gingiva, especially with ulceration or necrosis. They live deep in the periodontal pockets around the teeth. In patients with healthy tissue, these bacteria can accumulate on the back of the tongue.
Around 85% of the causes are in the oral cavity. 15% are the consequence of some systemic diseases.
- Smoking: causes dry mouth and bad breath. People who smoke often have gum diseases which can cause bad breath.
- Poor dental hygiene: if you don't brush your teeth daily, food particles can stay on your teeth. That way, bacteria grow faster, causing plaque formation on your teeth. Plaque can cause gum inflammation and teeth decay over time, which can cause halitosis. Not cleaning your dental prostheses may also cause bad breath.
- Food: when you eat food like garlic and onions, the stomach absorbs the oils that go into your bloodstream and your lungs. Drinking coffee can also cause bad breath.
- Dry mouth: saliva cleans the mouth, so bad breath occurs when there is insufficient saliva to wash away the food particles. You produce less saliva at night, so bad morning breath is common. If you experience chronic dry mouth, it can be caused by salivary gland problems or some diseases.
- Gingivitis: is an oral inflammation of the gums. It causes swollen, red, and bleeding gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis (damaged gum tissue leading to tooth loss)
- Nose, throat, and lung infections: sinus infections, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and tonsil stones can all cause halitosis.
- Diabetes: in diabetic ketoacidosis, a sweet or fruity smell of acetone is produced.
- Kidney and liver problems: when not working correctly, the toxins are not filtered out of the body, which may cause bad breath.
Knowing the cause is the key to treatment.
After you notice you have chronic bad breath, we recommend you talk to your doctor.
But first, you may do a few simple tests. Lick the top of your hand and wait one minute for the saliva to dry. If bacteria in the saliva produce an unpleasant odor, you will feel it immediately. You can also use a piece of gauze to wipe the tongue as deep as possible and wait for the gauze to dry. In the case of halitosis, an unpleasant odor will be sensed.
A doctor can make a diagnosis after a physical exam. The general practitioner will look for signs of infection in the throat, sinuses, or other possible system diseases that can cause halitosis. You will be asked about the food you eat, medications you take, how often you brush your teeth, other medical conditions you have, or whether you snore. Then, the dentist can examine your teeth, gingiva, and gums.
Another test that can be done is called exhaled air odor search. It is best to avoid consuming garlic 48 hours before the test and for about two hours before it is advised that you do not eat, drink, smoke, or gargle. During the test, you exhale 10 cm from the doctor's nose, first through the mouth, then the nose.
Other standard tests include portable sulfur detectors, gas chromatography, and chemical tests of tongue scrapings.
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Halitosis treatment and home remedies
The treatment varies depending on the cause of bad breath. If the cause is poor dental hygiene, an appointment with your dentist might solve the problem. Managing infections or other medical conditions will also help with bad breath. If the cause of halitosis is dry mouth, the doctor might recommend artificial saliva.
Here is what you can do at home to help with halitosis:
The number one thing is good oral hygiene. In addition to daily tooth cleaning, oral hygiene should regularly include oral shower, dental floss, or interdental brushes.
Add these to your daily oral hygiene routine:
- Tongue cleaners for effective mechanical removal of bacteria from the tongue,
- Special kinds of toothpaste,
- And clinically proven rinses to fight active bacteria that cause bad breath
Brushing your teeth after every meal or at least twice daily would be best. You can use fluoride toothpaste or ones with antibacterial properties. Brush your teeth for two minutes. The toothbrush should be soft-bristled and the right size to reach all areas of your mouth. When brushing, hold the brush at 45 degrees angle toward your gums, and brush all the surfaces of the teeth. It is important not to brush aggressively since that could cause gum recession. It would be best to replace the toothbrush every three months or often if it looks worn.
Floss your teeth at least once daily. It is essential since floss can reach the places the toothbrush can’t, and that way removes the food particles stuck between your teeth. Water flossers remove large food particles that are stuck between your teeth. But to floss properly, you should also use regular floss. The right way to floss is to cut dental floss enough to wrap it around your middle fingers. Then hold the floss tightly to leave it around one inch between the fingers. When you wrap the floss around one tooth, rub up and down that tooth about ten times. Doing so removes the plaque stuck between teeth.
Brush your tongue at least once a day. You can buy special tongue scrappers or toothbrushes that have built-in tongue cleaners. Since your tongue is covered with bacteria, scrapping might help significantly with halitosis problems. At least once a day, best in the evening, use antibacterial mouthwash. Talk to your dentist about which he would recommend for your condition. If you wear dental appliances or dentures, clean them as your dentist advises.
And most importantly, do your regular dental check-ups at least twice a year.
You should avoid food that may cause dry mouth, like coffee, sugary drinks, and alcohol. Drinking enough water during the day is best to keep saliva production. Try having eight glasses of water daily. You could also chew sugarless gum or candy to support saliva production.
Avoid foods you know can cause bad breath, spices, and intensely smelled foods like garlic and onions. Always consume enough fresh fruit and vegetables, fiber-rich foods, whole grains, leafy greens, apples, celery, and citrus fruits. Since bad breath is closely linked to an unbalanced diet, avoiding specific diets, especially low-carb diets, is best.
Sour drinks are known to increase saliva production. Adding citrus fruit to your diet will help with bad breath problems. You can make lemonade or eat fresh fruit; the choice is yours.
You can have a glass of pineapple juice after every meal. Just be sure to rinse your mouth afterward.
Chewing some green leaves rich in chlorophyll will freshen your breath. You can try parsley leaves, mint, or basil. Some seeds have also been used for thousands of years as breath fresheners. You can eat anise, cloves, or fennel seeds as fresh seeds, roast them, or sugar coat them. Since the seeds contain aromatic essential oils, they will freshen your breath.
If you think water is tasteless, add some teas to your diet to help produce saliva and fight bad breath. Sage tea can be used for gargling.
Green and mint teas have similar deodorizing and disinfectant properties; they can be ideal breath fresheners. And the best thing is they don't have to be freshly made, so you can brew them in the evening and take it to work the next day. You can also make chamomile tea.
If the reason you have halitosis is bad digestion, you can make dandelion root and wormwood tea. Mix equal parts of tea, and pour three tablespoons with 7 deciliters of boiled water. Strain and drink 2 deciliters before a meal, three times daily.
Before adding any herbal remedy or tea to your diet, ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use.
Dairy can sometimes be a good choice for halitosis treatment. If you have a glass of milk after a meal containing onions or garlic, your breath could be less smelly. Yogurt contains the good bacteria, lactobacillus, which helps against harmful bacteria in your digestive system. One non-fat plain yogurt daily can significantly reduce your halitosis.
Homeopathic remedies that might help with bad breath are Pulsatilla (for dry mouth and bad breath), Carbolic acid (bad breath and abdomen pain), Hepar sulfur (gum and throat infections), Kreosote (bleeding gums, teeth caries, bad breath), Merc sol (saliva hyperproduction), etc. Talk to your homeopathic practitioner about your symptoms to find the best homeopathic remedy.
The Bottom line
If you have bad breath problems, remember that you are not alone. Many people suffer from this condition. It is essential to know that it is not a disease you must be ashamed of. It may be the way your body tells you something is wrong. So if the problem does not improve with home treatments and better oral hygiene, talk to your doctor and dentist to find the underlying cause of halitosis.
Plus, you have many short and long-term solutions at your disposal. Try them!
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Healthline, Cleveland Clinic, Bestmade Natural Products, Willow Creek Dentist, Lybrae