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Halitosis … or just bad breath?

There are few things more unpleasant and uncomfortable in social situations than talking to someone with bad breath.  For many people, grabbing a mint or a piece of gum is quick solutionwhich only masks the problem. This approach often fails to address the root causes of bad breath, which for many people includes dietary deficiency. The reality is that bad breath can be caused by some health conditions, foods and even stress.

Oral hygiene – good dental hygiene is essential and should include brushing your teeth at least twice daily after meals.  Regular flossing helps to remove food particles which get trapped and are difficult to remove with brushing alone.  Rinse your mouth thoroughly with a solution of bicarbonate soda and purified water or gargle/rinse with Himalayan rock salt and warm water.  Avoid toothpastes and commercial mouth washes that contain Sodium Laurel Sulphate, Propylene Glycol, Fluoride, Alcohol, Sucralose or Aspartame.  Note: If you choose to use a mouthwash or mouth spray as a temporary solution to the problem, it is particularly important that you choose one that has no alcohol at all.  Alcohol actually contributes to the development of bad breath and studies have shown that mouthwashes containing more than 25% alcohol are linked to an increased risk of developing oral cancer.  Make sure you visit your dentist twice a year – prevention is always better than having to undergo major dental work. 

Water – Believe it or not, dehydration is one of the most common causes of bad breath. Many people drink far too little water throughout the day to ward off the bacteria in the mouth that are most responsible for causing bad breath. Tiny microbes in the mouth actually feed on loose food particles throughout the day, releasing odor-causing byproducts that end up stinking up breath. And all-natural saliva, it turns out, is your body’s built-in remedy for eliminating these bacteria. It is possible for chronic dry dry mouth conditions to play a part in the development of bad breath. Dry mouth is caused by the decomposition of dead cells in your mouth and on your tongue. This decomposition results in an unpleasant door.
But in order for your body to produce enough bacteria-fighting saliva, you must be drinking plenty of clean, fluoride-free water throughout the day. Since saliva is full of oxygen, bacteria have a much harder time surviving because they require low-oxygen environments in order to thrive. Saliva also contains natural enzymes that help stimulate the production of antibodies that neutralize bacteria, which end up getting eliminated when you swish with water, mouthwash, or other oral hygiene products. Review any medication you are taking to ensure this is not the cause of dry mouth.

Zinc – Another common cause of halitosis is a deficiency in the mineral zinc, which helps maintain a clean, bacteria-free mouth. Some mouthwash products actually contain zinc as an active ingredient because the mineral is a known antimicrobial, and aids in the neutralization and elimination of harmful germs. Eating more zinc-rich foods like pumpkin and gourd seeds, cacao, and organ meats, can help address the problem systemically.
“Zinc deficiency is associated with poor healing, immunity and inflammation,” writes Heather Caruso in her book, Your Drug-Free Guide to Digestive Health. “Halitosis from oral disease can benefit from zinc supplementation.” Before rushing out to buy a zinc supplement, have your zinc levels checked by a qualified natural health professional.  Also, not all zinc supplements are the same, so check with someone who can advise you on what is best for you.

Toxic overload – Since bad breath can also stem from a buildup of heavy metals, yeast overgrowth, and other toxins inside the body, it is important to regularly flush your system via dietary interventions. And one way you can do this is by taking stinging nettle or drinking stinging nettle tea. A powerful herb that has been shown to purify the blood and eliminate toxins from the body, stinging nettle helps stimulate the lymphatic system, increase the excretion of uric acid through the kidneys, and boost adrenal function, all of which target halitosis at its root.
“Bad breath is often indicative of toxemia or defective elimination via liver,” explains Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Guide. This helpful manual goes on to suggest not only nettle, but also alfalfa sprouts, parsley, peppermint, dill, fennel, sage, licorice, dandelion, echinacea, myrrh, lemon, and chlorophyll as viable treatment options for bad breath.  All too often our bodies are overloaded and need a little more help so consult a qualified natural health practitioner who can help your body eliminate the toxins and care for your liver.

Probiotics – Poor gut health is another common cause of bad breath. If your digestive tract is overloaded with built-up toxins, for instance, or if routine antibiotic use and poor dietary habits have left your digestive system in shambles, bad breath could merely be a side effect of another underlying problem.
Equally, if you suffer any bowel irritation/sensitivity , constipation or a sluggish digestive system, you  are a prime candidate  for developing bad breath. The reason for this is that these conditions create an excess of gas in your body, and much of that gas exits through your mouth.  Supplementing with probiotic flora or eating more probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, fermented sauerkraut and kombucha tea just might be the remedy. Taking the juice of half a fresh lemon with a little water prior to eating meals may help your digestive processes run more smoothly.
A study published in the journal Current Opinion in Gastroenterology back in 2011 found that probiotic supplements actually help replace odor-causing oral microbes with beneficial varieties, effectively nipping bad breath in the bud. Other studies have identified specific probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus salivarius that directly target harmful bacterial strains in the mouth, and reduce or eliminate the volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) responsible for causing bad breath.

Crunch & chew – Eat more carrots, celery, and apples. Crunchy fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, that are rich in fiber are also beneficial in the fight against bad breath. Eating more carrots, celery, and apples can help scrape out the plaque build-up that is responsible for causing  mild or infrequent forms of bad breath, as well as add an extra dose of immune-boosting nutrients to your diet. These foods also help trigger an increased production of bacteria-fighting saliva inside the mouth.

If you have tried the above and still suffer from bad breath, I recommend seeing a qualified natural health practitioner.