Everyone’s experienced a bout of bad breath at one time or another. Whether it’s the infamous morning breath or eating something fragrant, usually a mint or piece of gum does the trick.
But what if it’s a regular occurrence? It can be embarrassing, especially in social situations. Keep reading to find out how to cure bad breath permanently. Find out what causes it and how to prevent it. And more importantly, learn how to be able to be up close and personal again.
Bad Breath Overview
Bad breath or halitosis happens to everyone at one time or another. And the worry and anxiety associated with bad breath is also big business for mint and gum companies. The rows and racks of bad breath aids in stores can’t be wrong.
However, bad breath isn’t only due to eating pungent foods or forgetting to brush your teeth in the morning.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single cause for bad breath. Therefore, it may be difficult to pinpoint the origin of stinky breath. But most of the time, it starts in your mouth. The possible reasons include:
Eating certain foods can cause bad breath. Onions, garlic and spices may contribute to malodorous breath. Sometimes food particles that remain in and around your teeth can increase bacteria growth in your mouth and cause a bad odor.
But it doesn’t stop there. After digestion, these odor-causing foods enter your bloodstream and may be carried to your lungs. This is another way that food can affect your breath even if you eat numerous mints, which may mask the smell it but is not a cure for bad breath.
Smoking cigarettes and cigars or chewing tobacco are notorious causes for unpleasant mouth odor. In addition, tobacco products may also increase your risk of gum disease, and gum disease may be another source of bad breath.
Poor dental hygiene practices
Have you ever skipped a day or two of flossing and brushing? Proper dental hygiene is another way to keep bad breath at bay. But when someone neglects it, food particles can remain in the mouth and cause bad breath.
In addition, improper hygiene can also lead to plaque formation on the teeth. When plaque builds up, it can eventually lead to periodontitis. In other words, the plaque can lead to gum irritation and gum disease.
Furthermore, the tongue can also trap bacteria and the trapped bacteria may also produce foul odors. Dentures that are improperly cleaned work the same way and can contain food particles and odor-causing bacteria.
Saliva can help rinse the mouth of particles that may cause bad breath. But if your mouth is dry, it may be contributing to bad breath.
Most people wake up with bad breath. It happens to everyone because the mouth becomes dry when you are asleep. It may be worse if you sleep with your mouth open because the saliva dries up and allows bacteria to grow.
Chronic dry mouth, however, may be caused by problems with the salivary glands or can be a symptom of other diseases.
Some medications may produce bad breath if dry mouth is one of its side effects. Other medications may release chemicals that break down in the body and carry on to the breath.
Additionally, different mouth infections or surgical wounds can cause bad breath. This may be a result of oral surgery, gum disease, tooth decay, or mouth sores. Infections in other parts of your body like chronic inflammation in the sinuses, nose, or throat may also increase postnasal drip, and that can also increase the likelihood of bad breath.
Alternatively, small stones can sometimes form in the tonsils. These stones are covered in bacteria, and the bacteria may produce bad smells.
Sometimes bad breath is a symptom of an underlying disease. Some cancers and conditions can cause a particular breath odor because of the chemicals that they produce. For example, chronic reflux of stomach acids or GERD is often associated with bad breath.
You might be surprised to learn that crash diets can contribute to bad breath, but they can. Some of the biggest dieting culprits may come from fasting or low-carb diets because of the breakdown of fat-producing chemicals called ketones, which have a strong aroma and may increase the risk of developing halitosis.
Bacteria may be the culprit for chronic bad breath. There are hundreds of naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth that can cause bad breath, and your mouth provides the perfect conditions for that bacteria to grow.
Everything you eat and leave behind in your mouth is food for the bacteria to thrive on. An excess of bacteria can lead to tooth decay and receding gums.
The symptoms of bad breath are self-explanatory. However, some people think that they have it and live in constant anxiety that they may have bad breath, while they may have little to no odor on their breath.
On the other hand, some people may have halitosis and not even realize it. Close friends or family may be able to confirm bad breath, although it is often embarrassing to ask.
In addition, the odor may vary depending on the underlying cause. Sometimes changes in self-care habits are enough to alleviate bad breath symptoms. But other times, as in the case of serious disease or tooth decay, self-care may not be enough.
Many people who suffer from bad breath, whether from a persistent condition or otherwise, may also develop a social anxiety disorder. The anxiety about having bad breath may bleed into a person's interpersonal relationships, including personal, social, and work relationships.
Studies suggest that the actual impact may depend on who a person learns about their halitosis from. But people with the condition report negative psychological effects including:
- Poor self-image
- Poor academic performance
- Decreased self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Social phobia
- Suicidal intents
Furthermore, one review revealed that of all the cases studied, 75% of people used defense techniques, and that they avoided social relations and situations due to decreased self-confidence and insecurity.
Problems with Conventional Toothpaste and Mouthwash
One of the best ways to prevent bad breath is to practice good oral hygiene. That means brushing and flossing regularly. But there are a variety of toothpastes and mouthwashes on the market that claim to help with bad breath. Unfortunately, some may do more harm than good.
For example, one toxic chemical called triclosan may be found in toothpaste and other hygiene products. A study by the Cornucopia Institute revealed that toothpaste may contain contaminated and potentially toxic ingredients that may form due to certain interactions and degrade over time.
In addition, children may be at a higher risk of toxicity exposure because of the amount of toothpaste they consume each time they brush. But adults aren’t safe either because the chemicals can be absorbed through the mouth’s mucus membranes.
Furthermore, mouthwash isn’t that much safer to use. Mouthwash can include ingredients that are harmful in large amounts, such:
- Methyl salicylate
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Ethanol (ethyl alcohol)
- Chlorhexidine gluconate
Also, using mouthwash for bad breath doesn’t take the place of good oral hygiene. It only masks the symptoms and the effects are short-lived.
Some mouthwashes that contain alcohol have been linked to oral cancer. The alcohol in mouthwash is used as a preservative, but it also has the added effect of drying out the mouth which may make bad breath worse.
However, the American Dentist Association (ADA) has listed some oral hygiene products as safe to use. To earn the ADA Seal of Acceptance, a company has to demonstrate that the mouthwash is safe and effective by providing scientific evidence.
Remedies and Prevention for Bad Breath
So what can you use? Check out how to cure bad breath permanently by using some of the remedies listed below.
Good Dental Hygiene
Practicing good oral hygiene is paramount to preventing bad breath. According to one study, the main cause of bad breath is poor hygiene management. So, start by treating existing bad breath or prevent it from starting with a proper brushing, flossing, and tongue scraping routine.
What is the best toothpaste for bad breath?
First, if you have excess bacteria in your mouth, your doctor may prescribe a special antibacterial toothpaste. Otherwise, toothpaste that helps prevent plaque buildup may be the best help. Some research shows that toothpaste that contains baking soda may be very effective against bad breath.
What is the best mouthwash for bad breath?
Unfortunately, store-bought mouthwash may not be the best solution for bad breath. Instead, try a homemade mouthwash made from baking soda or vinegar. Both are effective against bacteria.
- Baking soda kills bacteria
- Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar slows bacteria growth
To make a baking soda mouthwash, simply mix 2 teaspoons of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda in powder form) with 1 cup of warm water. Swish it around your mouth for 30 seconds and spit it out.
You can also make a vinegar mouthwash in a similar fashion by mixing 2 tablespoons of vinegar with 1 cup of water. Gargle for approximately 30 seconds before spitting it out.
Don’t forget to incorporate tongue scrapping in your oral hygiene routine. Bacteria can grow and thrive on your tongue and cause bad breath. So, use a toothbrush or special tongue scraper to clean your tongue at least once a day. Regular scraping can remove food debris, bacteria, and dead cells that normal tooth brushing doesn’t take care of.
As mentioned, dry mouth causes bad breath. Make sure you keep your mouth hydrated and saliva flowing by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Try to stay away from caffeinated or sugary drinks which can make dehydration worse.
Avoid Foods That Sour the Breath
You may love garlic bread, but it may be best to avoid it before certain social situations. Brushing your teeth after consuming onion, garlic, or other smelly food may not be enough to combat bad breath because the offending compounds enter your bloodstream and travel to your lungs. Eventually, you end up with that smell with every breath, which no amount of mints can hide.
Add These Bad-Breath-Busting Foods
Certain foods can also help combat bad breath. Try incorporating some or all of them into your daily diet:
One serving per day, plain and non-fat; the probiotics may reduce the severity of bad breath.
Drink a glass as needed during meals to combat strong smelling food.
Anise seeds or fennel
Eat after meals to freshen the breath.
Eat as needed, as they increase saliva production.
Eat after garlicky foods as they may neutralize garlic compounds in the bloodstream.
Drink throughout the day as needed to its deodorizing and disinfectant properties that freshen breath.
Chew as needed after meals to freshen breath; a folk remedy.
Drink one glass of juice or eat one slice after meals; a folk remedy.
Additionally, zinc may also help with bad breath. Look for chewing gum or mouthwash that contains zinc. You can also try zinc supplements to counteract the compounds contained in certain foods that give breath a bad odor.
Furthermore, to prevent bad breath, you may need to kick the tobacco habit. Not only does it cause bad breath but it may also damage your gums. And gum disease also makes you susceptible to bad breath.
You may wonder how to cure bad breath permanently. The fact is that good dental hygiene is one of the best ways to combat it and prevent it from coming back. Keep an eye out for dental products that have the ADA Seal of Approval to ensure that you aren’t using something that may make bad breath worse.
In addition, try to incorporate foods into your diet that keep bad breath at bay. Instead of reaching for another stick of gum, try eating foods known to have breath freshening properties. And remember to stay hydrated.
If, however, bad breath persists, it may be time to consult with a medical professional. Chronic bad breath may be an indicator of a serious underlying condition.