February 20th, 2009
Bad breath is one of the most embarrassing things that we have to be neurotic about. Sadly, our fear of bad breath has created a billion-dollar industry. These products that are meant to reduce and rid you of the odor are relatively ineffective in removing the problem and for the most part just cover up or mask it. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it still has bad breath. Perhaps the most effective treatment is regular flossing and brushing of your mouth and tongue. This is because one of the causes of mouth odor is decomposing skin cells and food. And brushing and flossing after meals will reduce the amount of decomposing stuff. There are cases of bad breath that originate from the things we eat, like garlic, liver, onions, and other things like that. Also, bad breath could be a side effect of medication or a symptom of a condition. Those causes and more are discussed in the next section.
Causes and Cures for Halitosis or Bad Breath
When bacteria break down dead skin cells and leftover food in your mouth, they emit a foul odor. You know, kinda similar to the smell of a rotting corpse (i.e., "death breath"). There are bacteria in your mouth, and there is no way of getting rid of them, not that you would really want to. But that doesn't mean you should give them stuff to eat. They already have plenty of dead skin to chew on.
To keep the bacteria from making your mouth smelly, floss, brush, and scrape. After each meal, floss and brush to remove the food stuck in between your teeth. Use a tongue scraper to scrape your tongue daily. Or brush it when you brush your teeth. Don't forget to rinse. Not everyone needs to brush after every meal. But it is an option for people with really smelly breath.
Keeping your body hydrated will help to keep the skin cells in your mouth from dying out. A dry mouth encourages the accumulation of dead skin cells. These dead skin cells are then consumed by bacteria. And then you have the breath of death once again. Drinking water also rinses out food particles and what-not.
Strong tasting food can cause bad breath. In the same way that alcohol is extremely noticeable on the breath of someone drunk, strong tasting food can also find its way onto the breath of someone who has consumed it. The noxious smelling chemicals find their way into your blood, which releases it into the air once the blood reaches your lungs, giving you garlic, onion, liver, or whatever breath.
Gargling with mouthwash or saltwater on a regular basis will help to reduce bad breath. You can't brush your tonsils, but you can rinse them. The tonsils can be a source of bad breath too, as they catch food particles and bacteria. But a daily gargle for at least 30 seconds will help keep the bacteria count down. Make sure to gargle and rinse with water after the mouthwash to make sure you flush all the nasty stuff down.
Preventing Bad Breath
For most people, bad breath can be improved by all or some of the following:
- Brush your teeth after every meal.
- Brush or scrape your tongue to remove dead skin cells.
- Floss daily to remove food stuck between your teeth.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid coffee, soda pop, and alcohol.
- Avoid strong foods that cause bad breath, like curry, onion, garlic, and strong spices.
- Get a new toothbrush every 4 months.
- Rinse your mouth after using inhaler medications.
- Treat the underlying medical condition causing the bad breath (see right sidebar).
- Switch the bad-breath causing medication to something else, if possible.