How to get rid of bad breath
Halitosis or bad breath is a common oral condition, primarily due to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
The harmful bacteria feed on sugars and fatty foods that you snack on, thereby creating unfavourable acidic conditions in the mouth. Persistent bad breath may be due to gum disease or tooth decay.
Or it can be due to more severe health issues, usually related to the gut microbiome and intestinal disorders.
Good oral hygiene
The first step to preventing bad breath is implementing correct oral hygiene habits. These habits also help keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy.
According to WebMD, these are the steps to take to freshen breath:
- Brush and Floss: Getting rid of trapped food and debris limits plaque build-up on your teeth. This sticky build-up hosts bacteria, which causes a bad odour—floss at least once a day and brush at least twice a day. For the most, you can increase this routine to at least thrice a day. Too much brushing wears down teeth enamel, leaving teeth vulnerable to decay.
- Clean your tongue: Cleaning your tongue can be done by gently brushing off debris and bacteria build-up with your toothbrush. A special scraper that reaches the back of your tongue also work well
- Rinse with mouthwashes: There are several types of mouthwash on the market, but it is best to get a recommendation from your dentist on one that is specifically geared to fight bacteria at its root cause. You don’t want to get a minty deodoriser. Natural antibacterial mouthwashes include cloves and cinnamon steeped in boiling water.
- Gum health: See your dentist if you have bleeding gums or if it is red and tender because this could be the bacterial gum disease, gingivitis, which causes bad breath. Tenderness can be soothed by swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil for 10 to 15 minutes in your mouth. This pulls bacteria from your oral cavity. Spit oil down the toilet and not down the washbasin, as the oil will harden in the drainage pipes
- Create saliva; besides staying hydrated by drinking water and herbal teas, chew sugarless chewing gum with xylitol. This creates sufficient saliva, which is vital for flushing away debris.
- Stop smoking: Smoking stains your teeth, damage your gums, and gives you permanent ashtray breath. That’s besides the risk of cancer.
- Quit sugar; Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause the acid that does major damage to your oral health.
- Avoid onions and garlic; No amount of mouthwash or brushing will help get rid of bad breath caused by food substances. These make their way into your bloodstream and into your lungs, and that’s what you breathe out. Rather avoid onions and garlic if these are causing your bad breath issues. Rather use alternative herbs and spices to flavour your food.
See your doctor
See your dentist to check for gum disease and tooth decay if your bad breath comes with symptoms that include: painful, swollen or bleeding gums; toothache; loose teeth and dentures that are ill-fitting.
According to Medical News Today, if your dentist rules out gum disease and tooth decay as the cause of your halitosis; and brushing routines and natural remedies aren’t working, then it is time to see your doctor.
Your doctor will check to see if your bad breath issues aren’t from medication you are taking or medical conditions are known to cause bad breath. These include sinus infection, chronic lung infections; digestive issues; kidney and liver diseases and diabetes.
Foods as medicine
Food is often the best medicine. Healing with diet takes time, but the results and effects are long-lasting in the long run.
For combating bad breath, these foods work well:
- Herbs and spices: rosemary, thyme, fennel seeds, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, peppermint, bergamot used in a tea or used to flavour your food all have anti-microbial properties that break down bad bacteria
- Green tea; studies have shown that properties in green tea can destroy up to five different bacterial strains, including the strain that causes gingivitis
- Almonds; crunching on fibre-rich nuts such as nuts such as almonds clears bacteria and debris from your teeth. The chewing with the advantage of creating saliva helps keep bad breath at bay.
- Raw fruits: fruits rich in water and vitamin C such as melons, berries, papaya, mangos and all citrus fruits not only hydrates your mouth and fights bacteria, particularly gingivitis
- Leafy greens: Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, rocket and other lettuces contain chlorophyll which is a natural fumigator of bacteria in your mouth. This reduces the foul breath odours, while the high-in-calcium greens also strengthen your teeth’ enamel.
- Probiotic foods: Foods such as vegetable pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi; dairy and water kefir and plain, sugar-free yoghurt all contain live bacteria, which are beneficial when it comes to reducing levels of harmful bacteria from your mouth to your intestines. Studies found that both plain, sugar-free yoghurt and kefir fight the Streptococcus mutans bacteria in saliva, which is the number one contributor to tooth decay and halitosis.
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