Curing bad breath in 5 easy steps: How to halt halitosis forever
Halitosis may sound like the punch line of a late night, stand-up comedian, but for people with chronic bad breath, it’s anything but funny. Bad breath can affect your self-esteem, your social life and even your career.
The minty mouthwash industry would have us believe that halitosis is simply a cosmetic problem. A quick rinse each morning and all is well. But, in fact, bad breath can come from many different sources, and some have nothing to do with your mouth. Halitosis can also be a symptom of serious health problems, and, for that reason alone, should not be ignored.
Curing bad breath in 5 easy steps
Everyone has bad breath from time to time. Maybe they’re just getting over the flu; maybe they’ve just eaten a big batch of garlic fries. If, however, halitosis has become a persistent problem for you, here are five steps to take that will help you track down the source of the problem and, hopefully, halt halitosis forever.
- Start with your mouth – While halitosis doesn’t always start with your mouth, the truth is, sometimes it does. Start your investigation there. Dental problems such as tooth decay or early periodontal disease could be at the root of bad breath. An oral yeast infection could also be the cause. If you suspect this is the case for you, step up your oral health regime. Brush and floss regularly, for instance. Try using a tea tree oil dental rinse after brushing, as well. Also consider adding the probiotic L. reuteri to your supplementation routine. A study published by the National Institutes of Health (1) has shown that L. reuteri inhibits the formation of dental plague and also has both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The study concludes that the use of L. reuteri could be “a useful adjunct or alternative to periodontal treatment.”
- Double check your diet – When the medical community refers to food allergies, they are referring to a very specific histamine reaction in the body that can lead to rashes, hives and even anaphylactic shock. True food allergies can be very dangerous and may require medical attention. Many people who do not have true food allergies, however, can have a food intolerance. Food intolerances, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods (2), can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, bloating, eating disorders, mood swings and migraines. Other symptoms might include sleep disturbances, memory problems, weight gain, urinary urgency and, yes, even bad breath. If you suspect this might be your problem, a simple elimination diet may reveal the culprit. Completely eliminate the suspect food from your diet for several weeks and monitor your symptoms. Milk and dairy products are high on the list of foods likely to cause food sensitivities, as are corn, wheat and citrus.
- Watch what you eat – Even foods that don’t produce other unpleasant symptoms can affect your breath. Garlic and onions jump straight to mind, but other foods can add to bad breath — or help it! — as well. Protein-dense foods such as meat, cheese and fish can feed mouth bacteria which can lead to halitosis. Foods that naturally freshen your breath include crunchy fruits and vegetables like carrots, apples and celery. Fresh herbs such as parsley, rosemary and cardamom can help as well.
- Signs of illness – Chronic illness can lead to chronic halitosis. A recurring sore throat, for instance, or upper respiratory infection can cause bad breath. Fight the infection by beefing up your immune system with garlic, Echinacea, or vitamins A and C and zinc. Breath that smells like nail polish remover — some people call it a “fruity” smell — can be, according to the Mayo Clinic website (3), the first sign of serious illness. This type of “acetone breath” happens when there is not enough insulin in the bloodstream to properly turn blood sugar into fuel. The body starts breaking down fats for fuel, instead, producing ketones that show up in your breath. This could be a sign of hypoglycemia or developing diabetes. Halitosis can also be caused by dehydration or a zinc deficiency.
- Are medications the cause? While illness itself can cause bad breath, some medications prescribed to treat illnesses can also contribute to the problem. Medications for migraines, acid reflux, allergies and high blood pressure have been associated with halitosis in some patients.