Bad breath, also known as 'halitosis' is a common problem affecting one in four people globally. It can cause considerable psychological distress and embarrassment to the person suffering from it. According to dentists, bad breath is also the most common reason for people to seek dental care, after tooth decay and gum disease.
This article details the causes, some basic home remedies, preventive measures, lifestyle changes and other supporting information on bad breath. However, despite all these precautions if bad breath persists, it is necessary to visit a doctor to check for any underlying causes.
What Are The Various Causes Of Bad Breath?
- Poor oral hygiene
- Gum disease, cavities and infections
- Dry mouth
- Health conditions
- Crash diets
• Poor oral hygiene
While there are several possible causes of halitosis, the most common cause is poor oral hygiene. That is because the food is broken down in your mouth. Therefore, if you eat foods with strong odours like onions or garlic, the odour may sometimes remain in your mouth despite brushing. To add to this, if you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, it promotes bacterial growth in the gums, teeth and tongue.
When your dentures are not thoroughly cleaned, the bacteria in the food may adhere to it, causing bad breath.
Smoking and tobacco-based products can cause bad breath, teeth stain, and your ability to taste foods, further irritating your gums.
• Gum disease, cavities and infections
Gum disease is caused by the prolonged build-up of plaque in the teeth, which in turn causes bad breath. Some yeast infections and dental cavities also cause this condition.
• Dry mouth
A medical condition known as 'dry mouth' or 'xerostomia' can cause bad breath. Saliva is necessary to moisten the mouth and neutralize acids produced by plaque and to wash away the dead cells on the gums, tongue and cheeks. When this does not happen, the cells decompose causing bad breath. Dry mouth may also occur due to medications, gland problems or breathing through the mouth.
• Health conditions
Other health conditions such as pneumonia, sinus infections, bronchitis, diabetes, postnasal drip, acid reflux, kidney or liver problems can all cause bad breath.
• Crash diets
Low carbohydrate eating programs and fasting can also cause bad breath. This is because, during the breakdown of fats, chemicals called ketones that have strong aroma are produced. This causes bad breath.
Although diabetes by itself does not cause bad breath when the insulin level of a person is low, their bodies do not use sugar and they begin to use fat stores instead. The fat is broken down and ketones are produced in the body. This is known as 'ketoacidosis', and is a cause for bad breath.
15 Natural Remedies To Fight Bad Breath
There is nothing that nature cannot do. If bad breath is not due to any underlying medical conditions, home remedies can help. Here are a few simple home remedies to fight bad breath at home:
- Apple and cinnamon
- Warm salt water rinse
- Tea tree oil
- Chew cloves, fennel seeds, and cardamom
- Herbs - mint, basil and cilantro
- Zinc mouthwash
- Green Tea
- Aloe vera
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut oil
- Ginger juice
- Sugar-free gum
- Eucalyptus oil gargle
- Lemon, cinnamon and honey
1. Apple and cinnamon
All raw crunchy foods like apple and carrots help in fighting bad odour. Apples contain pectin that helps control food odour and promote saliva production. Cinnamon is antimicrobial, while yogurt has active cultures that help reduce odour-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Mix together a cup each of apple chunks, grated carrot, and add 3 to 5 tablespoons of low-fat yogurt. Decorate with walnuts, sprinkle cinnamon powder, and consume. This moistens the mouth.
2. Warm salt water rinse
Rinsing with a saline solution is a great way to prevent the build-up of infectious bacteria in the throat and mouth.
3. Tea tree oil
Just add a drop or two of tea tree oil to a glass of warm water. Gargle with this for 5 minutes. Tea tree oil is a great antibacterial agent that works against various bacteria and kills them.
4. Chew cloves, fennel seeds, and cardamom
If you are looking for a natural mouth freshener then just chew on fennel seeds, clove and cardamom to use as a natural mouth freshener.
5. Herbs - mint, basil and cilantro
If you are looking for natural remedies, to keep your teeth and gums clean, certain herbs like cilantro, mint and basil that can be of help due to the presence of chlorophyll in them. Chlorophyll is known to internally deodorize the body leading to fresher breath.
6. Zinc mouthwash
Try zinc mouthwash or a chewing gum to treat bad breath. Zinc gluconate has shown to have an impact on oral plaque build-up.
7. Green Tea
Green tea temporarily reduces bad breath due to its deodorant and antibacterial actions. This may be due to the presence of polyphenols in green tea that helps arrest bad breath. Drink a minimum of 3 cups a day to prevent halitosis.
8. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a natural antifungal and antibacterial plant. The extract is as effective as a mouthwash in reducing plaque.
9. Apple cider vinegar
make a solution of 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and use as a mouthwash for 5 minutes. Rinse with plain water. The antibacterial properties in vinegar help reduce bad breath.
10. Coconut oil
Just take one tbsp of virgin coconut oil and swish it around your mouth for 5 minutes and spit out. Follow this up by rinsing your mouth with lukewarm water. Do this every day until the bad breath disappears. Coconut oil is a popular remedy to keep your mouth healthy and germ-free.
11. Ginger juice
Just add 1 tsp of ginger juice to a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth with it. Do this daily after your meals to keep bad breath away. Ginger has antimicrobial properties and helps eliminate infection and bad odours.
12. Sugar-free gum
Chew a sugar-free gum to keep away from bad breath as this process helps in maintaining a healthy flow of saliva in the mouth and throat. Most gums come with mouth-freshening flavours too, such as mint.
13. Eucalyptus oil gargle
Add 2 to 3 drops of eucalyptus oil to a cup of water and rinse your mouth with this regularly. The oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and acts on different types of bacteria.
If the cause of your foul breath is the meal that you just consumed with garlic and onions, then just pop a cardamom pod in your mouth on completion of the meal. You can chew it on as a whole, or peel the pod and chew the seeds. Cardamom is an aromatic mouth freshener that masks bad odour.
15. Lemon, cinnamon and honey
Just pour the fresh juice of 2 lemons into an airtight container, and add half a tbsp of cinnamon powder and 2 tbsp of honey to this. Pour a cup of hot water to this and shake the container well to make a mixture of the ingredients. Use 2 tbsp of this as a mouthwash after you brush your teeth. Then rinse with plain water. Store the remaining solution for future use. Both cinnamon and honey have antibacterial properties to disinfect and cleanse the mouth.
Lifestyle Tips To Keep Bad Breath At Bay
• Maintaining a good oral hygiene is the key to preventing bad breath. This includes brushing twice a day, using floss, cleaning your tongue, using antibacterial mouthwash twice a day and replacing your toothbrush every 3 months.
• Visit your dentist at least twice a year to check for dry mouth, periodontal disease or other problems. Also, check with your doctor if your medications are the cause for mouth odour.
• Quit smoking and tobacco-based products.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol as it can cause dry mouth.
• Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist.
• Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and stress response. Therefore, it is essential to sleep for 7 hours every night.
• Did you know that even stress can change your body odour? So it is necessary to control your stress to reduce bad breath.
• Keep a check on the foods you eat. Avoid eating foods like garlic, raw onions and spicy food. Excess sugary foods also cause bad breath.
Despite these remedies and prevention tips if bad breath continues, you should consider seeking the help of a doctor for further tests to rule out other health conditions.