Science has proven that getting close to others can help ease depression, increase optimism, and even lower blood pressure. When someone is self-conscious about bad breath – or halitosis – it can create a barrier that prevents the human contact that people need. This barrier is not imaginary, since odors do affect emotional responses, and bad breath can be a big turn-off. If you are unsure about your own breath, you can test it by scraping a bit of saliva from the back of your tongue onto a (clean) finger and wiping it on the back of your hand. Wait a minute, and then sniff it. That is what your breath smells like. If it is bad, do not despair. Bad breath has many causes, but it also has many cures.
Bacteria – Bacteria are microorganisms that live in the mouth, particularly on the tongue and between the teeth. Healthy bacteria help to control the proliferation of bad bacteria, but a build-up of plaque or food bits in the spaces between teeth can cause the bacteria to stagnate and stink.
The Cure – Brushing and flossing teeth twice a day helps to keep the bacterial colonies in the mouth healthy. Studies have shown that people who floss before brushing are more likely to floss regularly because toothpaste leaves a clean feeling in the mouth that can make flossing seem unnecessary. Flossing is particularly important to prevent periodontal disease, which is another harbinger of halitosis. During an oral hygiene routine, the tongue should be brushed as well, especially toward the back of the mouth, since the tongue is a breeding ground for stinky bacteria.
Tonsils – Tonsils are the gland-like structures located at the top of the throat. They have deep pockets that can develop a soft, cheese-like substance, or even stones, that can cause considerable breath odor. People who have frequent tonsillitis are particularly susceptible to these issues.
The Cure – People who have frequent bouts with tonsillitis may want to talk to a doctor about having the tonsils removed. Fortunately, surgery is not necessary for smelly tonsils that are not causing any other significant discomfort. Gargling with a salt water solution can help reduce tonsil inflammation, and there are kits available that can help to keep tonsils clean and odor free.
Food – Some foods cause lingering odors for hours after a meal while the body processes them. Since many of these foods, such as garlic or onion, have health benefits, they should not be cut from the diet. Neutralizing the after-effects can be difficult with such persistently pungent foods, though.
The Cure – Brushing and flossing may remove traces of the food from the mouth, but it cannot stop the odors that rise up on the breath. Chewing a strong peppermint gum with xylitol can help breath and teeth. Xylitol is a substance that is sweet like sugar, but with 40 percent fewer calories. It keeps plaque from multiplying, producing tooth-harming acids, and sticking to teeth. Chewing peppermint gum with xylitol also encourages saliva, which protects teeth. Foods that help to neutralize food odor include:
- Parsley – When fresh, this herb has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and chewing it between meals can help to freshen breath naturally.
- Yogurt – Eating this sweet treat as a snack replenishes the good bacteria in the stomach intestines and aids the digestive system.
- Celery – Not only does celery provide good fiber, promoting a healthy digestive system, it also fights bad bacteria in the mouth.
Dry Mouth – When a person’s mouth does not have enough saliva, it can cause several problems that lead to bad breath. Although it is mostly composed of water, saliva also has proteins and minerals that protect teeth and gums while fighting the germs that cause halitosis. Dry mouth can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, which cause bad breath. The things that cause a lack of saliva in the mouth could also be causing bad breath, such as certain medications or sinus infections that clog the nasal passages and force mouth breathing.
The Cure – Drinking lots of water can help to replenish the mouth fluids, as well as the rest of the body. Chewing gum with xylitol also promotes saliva flow and can keep the mouth and breath feeling fresh.
When nothing clears the odor on the breath, it could be a symptom of a deeper issue that should be discussed with a doctor or dentist. Stomach problems, sinus issues, or gum disease may be the cause, and brushing and flossing will not be enough. Good oral hygiene, healthy dietary habits, and a sugar free gum with xylitol will banish most halitosis and make a person feel good about getting closer to loved ones.