Bad breath stinks, and nobody wants stinky breath. But, everybody has had stinky breath or halitosis at times. You may not know that you have stinky breath, but people that come close to you will know. So, what causes it, and what can you do about it? I am going to tell you.
Documentation of bad breath dates back to 1550 BC when the ancient Egyptians inscribed in the Ebers Papyrus (an ancient Egyptian medical document) how to use tablets made from cinnamon, myrrh, and honey to fight bad breath. Unfortunately today, most people still try to mask the odor but never address the actual causes.
Certain bacteria, certain foods, lack of saliva or dry mouth, infections either in the mouth or elsewhere in the body, or stress may cause bad breath. But, the fact is, if you could correct the causes, then your stinky breath would no longer be an annoying problem.
The first major source of halitosis is the mouth, where 90% of all bad breath originates. 80%-90% of this odor from the mouth originates on the back of the upper side of the tongue. This is where many bacteria reside, and where they break down dead cells and food particles to form stinky breath.
The next likely place in the mouth for bad breath is located in the crevices where the gum surrounds the necks of teeth and in spaces between the teeth. Bacteria that cause bad breath can accumulate in these hidden places, but more importantly they can cause gum disease, which can contribute to even worse stinky breath.
Other less common sources creating bad breath in the mouth may originate from dental decay; poorly fitting dental work; abscesses and other mouth infections; tobacco; alcohol; dry mouth frequently as a result of some medications; and volatile foodstuffs like onion, garlic, cabbage, and cauliflower.
The second major source of bad breath is from the nose. This is usually caused by sinus infections and post-nasal drip.
Another source of halitosis can be the odors produced from the metabolism of volatile foodstuffs, which are eventually expelled through the lungs as well as the skin.
Less frequent sources of bad breath are infected tonsils, liver and kidney diseases, carcinoma, lung infections, metabolic disorders, and diabetes.
A likely source that is actively being investigated through peer-reviewed research is the gut bacteria. Healthy bacteria in the gut can be damaged by specific foods, medications, and stress, all of which in turn can affect the bacteria throughout the body. These unhealthy changes in the gut can affect the healthy bacteria in the saliva, which then can change the bacteria in the mouth. Here and Here
So, what can you do? Here are 5 solutions:
- Brush your tongue. An effective way is to use a teaspoon. Place the inverted teaspoon as far back as is comfortable on the upper side of your tongue. Then, gently glide the teaspoon forward, removing the bacterial film and microscopic food particles. Repeat this 2-3 times, and then wash off the teaspoon. Perform this tongue-cleaning method in the morning and then in the evening before bed. If you want to spend your money, here are some tongue-cleaning gadgets on Amazon. Also, here is a link from my friend William Revak of OraWellness.com to his video from his website that demonstrates tongue brushing.
- Brush and floss your teeth correctly. This will remove the film of bacteria called dental plaque from around the gum line. Here is my blog on how to do this.
- Have regular dental checkups to make sure your oral health is up to par, and have professional cleanings at your dentist’s office to remove any tartar from under the gum tissues.
- Eat a Paleo-type diet to improve the health of both the microbes in your gut and also the lining of your gut. The fiber in veggies that dominate a Paleo-type diet will feed the good bacteria of the colon.
- Eat live-culture fermented foods every day like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir to improve the composition of the good bacteria in your gut.
What you don’t want to do is to try to kill off bacteria indiscriminately. Invariably, you may destroy some of the offending bacteria, but you will destroy many healthy microbes thus creating a more serious health problem. Mouthwashes are not the remedy. On the other hand, if you attacked the real causes of stinky breath and not just tried to mask bad odors, you could resolve these issues, and your breath would smell significantly better. You will be happy; your closest friends will be happier; and your partner will be ecstatic!