Bad Breath: Causes and Cures
Statistics show that at any given time, half the people walking around the planet suffer from bad breath. Causes range from dry mouth to stray food particles to excessive bacteria, plus more. Of that 50 percent who suffer from this embarrassing condition, about half of them—or 25 percent of all people—experience chronic bad breath. You’ve also most likely heard of bad breath referred to as halitosis, the word used by dentists and doctors for this awkward condition. Let’s take a look at bad breath causes, preventions, and cures.
The Bacteria Express
Few people realize the huge amount of bacteria that reside in the mouth. The person who doesn’t brush immediately after a meal leaves food particles and their attendant bacteria roaming happily along the teeth. Other people do brush their teeth without delay, but they fail to brush well enough. Bacteria and food particles remain trapped along the gum line, under the tongue, and even on the back of the tongue.
The back of the tongue serves as a perfect breeding place for all these bacteria. It’s far away from the reach of the toothbrush. Even if someone uses mouthwash, he is likely to give a cursory rinse and spit out the mouthwash before it has a chance to do its job. We’ll have more to say in a minute about food particles and also mouthwash, but for now let’s concentrate on the back of the tongue.
Have you ever stood at your mirror and stuck out your tongue and been surprised to see a whitish film coating the back of it? Many people go through the entire day not realizing that this is a constantly brewing stew of substances that work together to produce some really smelly bad breath. It’s not just bacteria contained in that coating; it also harbors food particles, sloughed-off skin cells from inside the mouth, and postnasal drip from the sinuses.
Your solution: Use your toothbrush to scrape the back of your tongue until it’s clean and pink on a daily basis!
Does Your Mouth Seem Dry?
Some people experience bad breath caused by dry mouth problems. The obvious cause for dry mouth is failure to take in enough fluids in the course of the day. Many people take medications that cause the mouth to dry up a little. Even something as simple as a water pill, which works to eliminate water from the body in the treatment of high blood pressure, can cause dry mouth. Few people consider that they need to increase their fluid intake if they take medications regularly.
Caffeine and alcohol both have the ability to dry out the tongue and tissue inside the mouth. A person might feel as if he cannot possibly suffer from dry mouth because he drinks coffee all day long, but the very opposite is true—he is drying out his mouth plus a whole lot more.
The superheated intake of air that accompanies smoking also strips the mouth of moisture. Once the mouth is dry, its chances are not good for successfully eliminating those harmful bacteria that want to stake out a place on the back of the tongue.
We told you there was more to say about mouthwash, and the truth is that it falls into this category of substances that dry out your mouth. If you doubt that, then read the label on your brand: If it contains alcohol, then it has a drying effect!
Your solution: Stop using substances that dry out the mouth, and drink some more good old H-Two-Oh.
Specific Foods: Say Cheese!
Everybody knows that eating onions on a date guarantees no goodnight kiss, and garlic poses a risk whether you’re a vampire or not. You’ve got to consider, however, that some other foods are just bad news for good breath.
Certainly you’ve heard of coffee breath, and surely you’ve come across some poor fellow whose breath smelled like pastrami or salami. But did you know that even cheese and orange soda can be the culprits? Even certain spices contribute to bad breath. Your body absorbs oils from these foods; believe it or not, the odor from the oils ends up in your lungs, expelled as bad breath. The exception to the foods listed here are the seeds of the cardamom plant, which are actually chewed to relieve bad breath.
Your solution: Avoid it, or smell like it!
What’s Up, Doc?
Many people experience bad breath caused or made worse by sinus problems. You have eight sinus cavities counting four on each side of your nose, and all of them drain into the back of the mouth. The sinus cavities become a repository for bacteria in their own right. Infected sinuses are a surefire recipe for bad breath.
Any infection can trigger bad breath, starting with tooth decay. The person who suffers from chronic sinus problems or repeated bouts of pneumonia probably has bad breath as well. If your doctor treats you on a regular basis for diabetes, kidney problems, or liver disease, chances are you suffer from bad breath.
Your solution: If you’ve ruled out some of the possibilities mentioned above, see your family physician to learn what could be causing bad breath.
You’ll also find more information on How to get rid of Bad Breath Here.
Read More About It:
Breath Odor. MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003058.htm
Halitosis. FamilyDoctor.org, at http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/halitosis.html.