If you’re worried how your bad breath smells at close quarters, one of the top dietitian comes to the rescue with these simple tips.
For many of us, finishing a cup of coffee leaves us yearning for an extra-strong mint — so imagine how you’d feel if your mouth constantly smelled or tasted like that. For many people, however, halitosis (or chronic bad breath) is a big problem.
Waking with ‘morning breath’ is quite normal, and it usually goes away after eating and drinking, or brushing your teeth. Your breath can also smell different after drinking coffee or alcohol, or eating spicy food, garlic or onions — sometimes you may think you’ve got bad breath when actually it’s quite okay. But, if you’re concerned or embarrassed about ongoing bad breath, a trip to the doctor or dentist may be in order, because there could be something else going on with your health.
Did You Know: 25% of people globally have persistent bad breath, with halitosis the third most common reason for dental visits.
What Causes Bad Breath?
The first place to investigate the origin of bad breath is your mouth. When odour-causing bacteria attack food particles after eating, they release strong-smelling Sulphur compounds. People with halitosis may have more of these bacteria present in their mouth. Additionally, not rinsing, brushing or flossing your teeth properly leads to a build-up of plaque on the teeth, and can cause a strong smell in the mouth. Gingivitis — a swelling of the gums caused by a build-up of plaque on your teeth — can also cause bad breath. Medications, breathing through your mouth, or medical conditions that reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth can cause problems too. That’s because saliva keeps the mouth moist, reducing odour and the layering of food particles.
Something More Serious?
Strong-smelling breath can also be a symptom of medical conditions such as sinus, mouth or throat infections, or inflammation and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GORD). High blood sugar, which occurs as a result of undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes, can be the cause of a sweet, pear–smelling breath. Bad breath may also indicate iron deficiency anemia.
What Goes In…
And then, of course, there’s what you put in your mouth! Eating, drinking and smoking can all potentially cause bad breath, along with foods that contain high amounts of Sulphur compounds, such as garlic and onion. Spiced and strong-flavored food and drink may also create problems. Coffee can cause temporary bad breath, and alcohol is thought to dry the mouth. Finally, you may notice the smell of your breath changes if you make dietary changes. For people on a ketogenic diet, ketones (a by-product of fat that is used for energy) can produce a pungently smelling, acetone-like breath.
Natural Fixes For Bad Breath
Avoid pungent substances: Steer clear of strong-tasting food, drink and alcohol. Coffee, onions, garlic and spicy foods are the main food culprits — but you may discover others. If avoiding all of these doesn’t make any difference, reintroduce them one at a time.
Chew on some fresh parsley: In studies that did not focus on halitosis directly, parsley has been found to reduce the Sulphur compounds that often cause bad breath. Fennel seeds, which have healthy anti-bacterial qualities, helped increase saliva production.
Drink more water: Dehydration can cause a dry mouth, and the resulting lack of saliva may promote bad breath. Drinking water regularly during the day can help prevent this.
Finish your meal with yoghurt: Probiotic-rich yoghurts are high in lactobacilli bacteria, which reduce one of the bacteria that can cause the development of dental cavities and gingivitis. Both cavities and gingivitis cause halitosis, meaning that probiotic yoghurts are an excellent preventative choice.
Eat high ﬁber foods & chew well: Results from a study in Switzerland showed a high ﬁber, intensively chewed meal reduced perceived breath odour for up to 2½ hours after a meal, compared with a low ﬁber, less intensively chewed meal. Fibrous food helped clean the tongue.
Did you know? About 50 per cent of the bacteria in your mouth are on your tongue…
Non-Diet Breath Strategies
Visit your doctor: There may be an underlying cause of bad breath, so it’s important to have your sinuses, tonsils and throat checked out. You may need to screen for reﬂux, diabetes, and liver and kidney function.
Try probiotics: Certain types of bacteria have been found to produce an increase in sulphur compounds that cause bad odour. Other types of bacteria increase the risk of plaque and gingivitis, which may also cause bad breath. Check out the speciﬁc probiotic products available that help with oral health.
Consider a mouthwash: A few studies have looked at the use |of antimicrobial mouthwashes which contain chlorohexidine or triclosan to reduce bad breath. However, long-term use of some mouthwashes may have side effects, such as staining teeth or creating allergic reactions. Talk to your dentist about whether a mouthwash might be the answer for you.
Lift dental hygiene: Make sure your mouth is in tip-top condition every day. Brush your teeth with the right toothbrush and toothpaste, and ﬂoss between your teeth. This will help you reduce the build-up of plaque and food particles that cause bad breath. Brushing your tongue may also help, but make sure that you use a baby toothbrush, not a tongue scraper or an adult toothbrush. Hard materials may end up damaging the cells on your tongue.