Medically known as Halitosis, bad breath is an issue we’ve all faced and there’s nothing to be embarrassed or secretive about. Dr. Munish Bhagirath, Dental Surgeon at Paramount Dental in New Delhi, tells us the bitter truth, “You might be unaware of it since you cannot identify your own stench and most people do not like to bring it up. You may not even realize that you are breathing out foul odour since you are so used to it.” But sometimes one is just being paranoid that their breath stinks when it doesn’t. This condition is called Halitophobia.
You may have not known but there is also a breath test to find out. Simply lick your wrist and after 10 seconds smell it. If it smells foul, you are a victim of halitosis or bad breath. So, first and foremost you need to figure out what is causing your breath to stink. According to Dr. Geeta Buryok, Chief Nutritionist from Max Hospital, “Poor oral hygiene, dental cavity or a coated tongue are some non-medical causes. Medically malnutrition, diabetes, dry mouth, sinusitis and gastrointestinal issues cause one’s breathe to stink. ” Let’s throw some light on the most common causes of bad breath.
Causes of Bad Breath:
1. Poor oral hygiene: This is the most common yet conveniently ignored cause of bad breath. Not brushing or flossing regularly at night especially can develop plaque on teeth irritating the gums and eventually forming pockets between teeth and gums. Certain odour-causing bacteria are found on the tongue that release sulphur gases responsible for bad smell.
2. What you eat: Food with strong odour or flavour can cause foul breath. So eating garlic, onion and certain spices frequently can develop the unpleasant breath. Coffee and alcohol with their strong smell contribute equally. The odour stays in your mouth and when the food moves through the system it releases chemicals that we breathe out through the lungs. Flossing and mouthwash will conceal the stench temporarily.
3. Smoking: If you smoke or chew tobacco, the chemicals tend to remain in the mouth. Besides causing that stench, it stains the teeth and reduces one’s ability to taste. “Smoking leads to the reduction of oxygen and hence deposit of more plaque and bacteria that is responsible for foul breath”, says Dr. Munish.
4. Dry mouth: If you consume too much of caffeine or are a mouth-breather, you need to reassess your habits. Due to this your mouth isn’t making enough saliva to take out the dead cells that accumulate on the tongue and gums. These dead cells decompose and cause the mouth to stink. Snoring too can worsen dry mouth and is a cause of the dreaded morning breath. “Bacteria tend to thrive the most at night your mouth isn’t making any saliva or there is no activity as such leading to morning bad breath,” Dr. Munish reveals.
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5. Acid reflux: It is the backward flow of undigested food or stomach acids into your oesophagus. These acids flow back into your throat causing a bitter or sour taste in your mouth. This comes out in the form of burps and hence the foul smell.6. Crash diets: Following a low-carb diet or fasting causes the body to break down fat which produces chemicals called ketones that can be smelled in your breath.
7. Chronic disease: At times foul breath is a result of persistent problems like diabetes, kidney or liver disease and respiratory tract infection like pneumonia or bronchitis.
Natural remedies for bad breath:
The good news is that it can be tackled with ease. Here are some easy DIY methods suggested by Dr. Geeta Buryok to put you out of your misery.
1. Practice good oral hygiene: Dr. Geeta advises, “One should go for a dental check-up every 6 months and brush twice a day. Only brushing will not keep your teeth healthy. Make it a point to floss. Rinse with a tea tree oil mouthwash. People do not change their brush for years which is also an unhygienic habit.”
2. Stay hydrated: “Stay hydrated at all times to ensure that the in-built cleaning system operates smoothly. Consume citrus fruits or juices that allow flushing out of the toxins,” suggests Dr. Geeta.
3. Eat more yogurt: Studies have found that a daily dose of plain, sugarless yogurt keeps bad odour at bay. Eating yogurt decreases the level of hydrogen sulphide which is a bad breath causing compound found on the tongue.
4. Fennel seeds: Often used as a mouth freshener, fennel seeds contain anti-bacterial properties to ward off mouth bacteria. Either you can consume it raw or prepare fennel tea. This will help in generating saliva that washes away the bacteria.
5. Cinnamon: Boil one teaspoon of cinnamon powder along with cardamom and bay leaves in water and rinse with it. Cinnamon essentially contains an oil called cinnamic aldehyde that reduces the mouth bacteria.
6. Citrus fruits or juices: For a dry mouth, eat citrus fruits like orange, lemon and grapefruit which induce the production of saliva. The acidity in lemons especially hinders the growth of bacteria and to top this, its strong scent conceals bad odour. Prepare a mixture of one tablespoon of lemon juice and salt with water and rinse your mouth with it daily or after meals.
7. Cloves: They possess anti-bacterial properties. Just like fennel, cloves can either be chewed raw or taken in the form of clove tea.
8. Parsley: Another home remedy, parsley contains chlorophyll to neutralize the stench. Follow either of the two ways to take it: chew on fresh parsley herbs or dip it in vinegar and then chew it. Another way is to extract the juice from the parsley leaves and drink it. It also aids in digestion.
If your bad breath persists even after these tips you should consult your dentist. Treating bad breath through conventional techniques like usage of mouthwash is not a permanent solution. You definitely need a change of routine.