Bad Breath? Let's Fix That!

Updated: Sep 11, 2018

I remember it vividly, Mrs. Puig, the very elegant mother of one of my patients, wondered if she could ask me a personal question.

“Of course!” I replied

“My cousin has recommended that to avoid bad breath it is very important to drink water, and rinse with salt and baking soda. I know that I have an appointment with my dentist in a few months, but I would love some clarification now!” Mrs. Puig now stared at me waiting for a response and explanation.

First things first, why do these things?

Halitosis is actually very common; many people have dealt with halitosis (bad breath). It usually originates in the morning, when our mouth has been accumulating bacteria. A quick fix is the bush your teeth and tongue, but sometimes that isn’t enough!

While it is true that drinking water help avoid stinky breath, halitosis is usually caused by poor oral hygiene that allows bacteria to accumulate and secrete sulfur which is the root of that bad smell.

Another contributing factor is diet! What you eat has a great deal of influence on how your breath smells. Though foods may not smell upon consumption, once digestion sets in, certain foods produce gases that exude strong odors, many of them increase stomach acidity and consequently produce halitosis. Sometimes the odor can be so powerful it doesn’t only affect your breath, but it can seep through your pores and your skin.

There is a belief that halitosis is only caused by a lack of oral hygiene. While it is true that poor hygiene produces a bad smell, it is also true that this condition can be caused by other factors, such as the type of food. Many times, people have a clean mouth, go regularly to their dentist and do not have any oral disease, but their mouth gives off an unpleasant odor that is perceived by everyone who approaches them. In cases like this, while it is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits you should also monitor the type of food being eaten.

Here are some great tips and suggestions to make sure you always smell fresh as a daisy!

Brush Teeth To Combat Odors

If you suffer from halitosis condition, the most important and effective thing you can do is to brush and floss twice a day (in the morning and at night). If you usually have spicy foods or foods seasoned with onion and garlic at noon, brush your teeth a third time after lunch.

Don't be lazy!

Many people find that it's helpful to use extra-strength toothpaste when combating unpleasant odors. There are a variety of different brands on the market, so you can find the one that you like best. Baking soda is a natural ingredient in many types of toothpaste that can help change the pH in your mouth. This slows the production of bacteria. DO NOT use mouthwash and other products with alcohol. Alcohol can dry the mouth and reduce the production of saliva, which in turn can cause bad breath.

Flossing well is also an important part of combating halitosis. Flossing makes it possible to remove food and organic debris that are a common source of decomposition in the mouth. Use string floss, instead of the flossing sticks that are commonly sold in stores. String floss is favorable because you can use different parts of the string for different parts of the mouth. Using different parts of the string while flossing can help stop the spread of bacteria through the oral cavity.

Eat Well

It is not enough to have good hygiene. It's also important to have a balanced diet. Eating too much of any one food could cause an excess of one type of bacteria, which could in turn lead to halitosis.

Bad breath can present itself in different ways. Odors provide clues that point to the cause. If the smell is similar to feces or vomit, there may be an intestinal obstruction. If the smell is fruity, the problem could be excess acetone. Sometimes the smell is similar to ammonia or fish, and this may be due to a kidney problem. Knowing the cause can help you decide which food and drinks to select, and what kind of diet is right for you.

Mint tea and ginger tea are usually effective if the bad breath is digestive. Drink tea about 20 minutes before eating to encourage good digestion. Green tea is also used as a perfect natural remedy to inhibit halitosis. This infusion contains many antioxidants that will help control and regulate the accumulation of bacteria in the oral cavity. Another way to combat digestion problems is to eat foods that contain warming herbs like turmeric, fennel and black pepper.

Dry mouth is another common cause of halitosis. Select those foods that stimulate the production of saliva. When the mouth dries due to a decrease in saliva, it cannot regulate the accumulation of bacteria on the tongue, causing bad breath. You can avoid this by hydrating your mouth with food, such as citrus, as these foods will help stimulate the secretion of saliva. Fibrous foods like apples and celery can also stimulate the production of saliva, while cleaning the mouth at the same time.

Yogurt is a good food to consider, because it contains bacterial flora and behaves as probiotic. Yogurt provides saprophyte flora (a group of microorganisms that live naturally in the human body, such as the flora of the colon). Natural yogurt, like the rest of probiotics, enhances the defenses of our gums against those bacteria that cause their inflammation, causing gingivitis or periodontitis and, therefore, also halitosis.

Eat leafy greens for the vitamin C, which improves production of red blood cells and reduces inflammation. Leafy greens are also fibrous and can stimulate the production of saliva as well.

Finally, it's important to stay hydrated. Often people who experience bad breath are the same people who just don't drink enough water throughout the day. Staying hydrated has many wonderful effects, including aiding digestion, which can also fight bad breath.

Talk to a Professional

If the problem persists, share it with your doctor. A good doctor will be able to help you identify the cause and devise a solution that will work for you.