©2003 Dr. Alva
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Bad breath (halitosis)
is a common problem which often comes from the activity of bacteria
in the mouth. Although there is no way of knowing for sure, most
adults probably suffer from bad breath occasionally, with perhaps
a quarter suffering on a regular basis.
Bad breath can be acute or chronic
depending on the underlying cause. It may indicate the need to clean
the teeth and mouth more often, tooth or gum disease, or intestinal
Bacteria in mouth, diabetes, drugs,
gum disease, heavy metal accumulation, infection, liver disease,
not eating, poor diet, poor dental hygiene, smoking, sulfur, stress,
parasite infestation and tooth decay can be some of the many causes
of this very common problem.
Is bad breath treatable?
In the past, bad breath was often considered
to be an incurable affliction. However, in recent years it has become
increasingly evident that bad breath is usually treatable once a
proper diagnosis is made.
The main problem is knowing whether
we have it or not, because we are poor judges of our own breath
odor. Some people suffer from bad breath without knowing it, while
others build up exaggerated fears about breath odor even though
they do not have it. The best way to find out whether we have bad
breath is to ask for someone else's opinion. If we don't ask, other
people are unlikely to tell us. And since bad breath can sometimes
- fortunately rarely - be a sign of a significant general health
problem, we should not be reluctant to tell people dear to us that
they have a bad breath problem.
What should I do if I have
If you have reason to believe that
there is a problem, then see your dentist first, since bad breath
often comes from the mouth itself.
When you see your dentist, it is a
good idea to explain in advance that you will be asking for advice
about bad breath. Also, try to go with someone who is familiar with
the problem, to help give your dentist an objective picture of how
bad the odor really is, how long it has been going on, and when
it improves or gets worse. Since bad breath often varies, a family
member or friend can also help determine whether the odor at the
time of the appointment resembles, both in character and intensity,
the odor that is generally troublesome.
If your dentist knows that the consultation
is about bad breath, you may be asked not to eat, drink, smoke,
chew gum, suck confectionery, use mouthwashes, breath fresheners
etc., so that the odor will be more typical. You should also avoid
using perfumed cosmetic products, such as perfume, aftershave and
scented lipstick prior to the appointment, since it can interfere
with the odor assessment. If your dentist is not told about the
reason for the consultation beforehand, do these things anyway and
tell the dentist that you have prepared for the appointment in this
In most cases (about 85-95%), the odor
comes from the mouth rather than the nose. This is an indication
that bacterial activity somewhere in the mouth is responsible. If
the odor comes mostly from the nose, then the nasal passages may
odor-related problems and their possible causes:
cause or source of malodor
fasting, dieting, sleeping, taking medications, prolonged
the mouth, insufficient saliva flow
poor cleaning between teeth
drip on back of tongue
Odor at onset
of menstrual cycle
stones with foul odor appear on tongue
from crypts in tonsils
suddenly from mouth of young children
suddenly from nose of young children
placed in nose
suddenly from entire body of young children
placed in nose
Taste or smell
of rotten fish
Odor in denture
kept in mouth at night or not cleaned properly
polyps, dryness, foreign body, hindered air or mucus flow
all day long
hygiene, gum disease, excessive bacterial activity on tongue
Where does the odor come from?
Most cases of bad breath appear to
be due to the breakdown of proteins by a variety of micro-organisms.
Several of the breakdown products are foul smelling gases.
In people with healthy teeth and gums,
the odor usually comes from the far back region of the tongue, and
grows stronger when the patient starts talking. The dentist can
sample this area using a plastic spoon. The odor coming from the
spoon sample may then be compared to the overall odor. Although
we do not know why, the very back of the tongue is an important
source of bad breath, possibly as a result of postnasal drip, which
can get stuck on the tongue and is then broken down by bacteria
on the tongue surface.
If the back of the tongue is the problem,
then the dentist can recommend a method of cleaning the area, either
with a toothbrush, or a specially designed tongue scraper (in some
countries, tongue cleaning is a common and ancient practice). It
takes time and patience to overcome the gagging reflex. But, eventually,
tongue cleaning becomes easy. Care should be taken to clean the
back of the tongue thoroughly yet gently, without inflicting pain
Can gum disease cause bad breath?
In some people, bad breath is associated
with gum disease, especially if rubbing the areas between the teeth
and gums yields a foul odor. Your dentist can help prevent and treat
gum diseases in various ways, depending on the type and extent of
the problem, but your own daily home care makes all the difference
in the world in maintaining gum health between appointments. Cleaning
of the spaces between the teeth is of great importance. One home
tip to healthy gums (and less bad breath) is to smell the odor coming
from the dental floss, and to work to clean those areas more carefully.
People with gum disease often have
higher levels of odor coming from their tongue, as well.
What can I do?
- Visit your dentist regularly.
- Have your teeth cleaned periodically
by a dental professional.
- Floss or otherwise clean between
your teeth, as recommended by your dentist. Choose unscented floss
so that you can detect those areas between your teeth that give
off odors, and clean them more carefully.
- Brush your teeth and gums properly.
- Ask your dentist to recommend a
toothbrush or scraper for your tongue. Clean your tongue all the
way back gently, but thoroughly.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Chew sugar-free gum for a minute
or two at a time, especially if your mouth feels dry. chewing
parsley, mint, cloves or fennel seeds may also help.
- Clean your mouth after eating or
drinking milk products, fish and meat.
- Unless your dentist advises otherwise,
soak dentures overnight in antiseptic solution.
- Get control over the problem. Ask
a family member to tell you whenever you have bad breath.
- If someone in your family or a
close friend has bad breath, find a kind way to let them know.
If you can't tell them directly, leave this fact file lying around.
They may get the message.
- Ask your dentist to recommend a
mouthwash which has been shown to be clinically effective in fighting
- Use it most effectively right before
- Eat fresh, fibrous vegetables such
The most effective natural
treatments of choice for the various causes of bad breath are:
maintains healthy intestinal flora
- Bee propolis Rinse
your mouth with it, or use the lozenges for its anti-bacterial,
wound healing effect.
cleanses blood, natural mouthwash, rich in nutrients
C wound healing of mouth
breaks down sulfur
rich in chlorophyll, Alfalfa is a source of minerals, enzymes
and vitamins. Chlorophyll has been used as a blood detoxifier
aromatic, Aids the digestive system: anorexia, colic, cramps,
dyspepsia, flatulence, heartburn, indigestion and vomiting.
anti-bacterial, antiseptic, astringent, is good for gum disorder-and
mouth ulcers and for treating chest infections, sore throats and
- Rosemary aromatic
- Sage aromatic
Gl a special formula that combines standardized extracts of
Glycyrrhiza glabra, the typical European licorice, and Zingibar
officinale, commonly known as ginger. Licorice has been shown
in studies to support a healthy stomach and intestinal tract by
increasing mucus secretion by the stomach lining cells, improving
mucus quality, and repairing intestinal cells.
Modern living takes its toll on our bodies and puts added pressure
on our liver and kidneys – the body's detoxifying organs.
Diets high in fats and food additives, combined with increased
levels of air and water pollution, make it more important than
ever to support the body's efforts to detoxify itself. Detoxinal
combines a variety of beneficial herbs and nutrients to optimize
the body's detoxifying process
was specifically developed to help the body maintain healthy yeast
levels in the gastrointestinal tract. Maintaining the proper balance
of intestinal flora is important for optimum health and absorption
Paraclear's unique combination of nutrients work together to detoxify
the body and cleanse the intestinal tract, without disturbing
the normal balance of intestinal flora that inhabit the gastrointestinal
system. The herb, Sweet Annie, is an extract from the leaves of
the Artemisia plant cultivated in Europe and Asia. Used for over
2,000 years in China, sweet Annie contains essential oils that
help detoxify the intestinal tract.
- Zygest Enzymes
are essential for proper digestive health. They convert the food
we eat into chemical structures that can pass through the cell
- Bioflora The digestive
tract is home for millions of different beneficial microorganisms
that help maintain a healthy gastrointestinal environment. Bioflora
returns the flora to its proper balance.
Burps, Boogers, and Bad Breath
(Spyglass Books) by David Conrad
Curing Common Complaints: From Bad Breath to Fatigue, Heartburn
and Tooth Stains: The Best Doctor-Tested Tips to Relieve Everyday
Health Concerns (The Family Home Remedies Collection)
Our Hero Has Bad Breath by Peter Robins
Dog Breath! : The Horrible Trouble With Hally Tosis Dav Pilkey
Bad Breath: A Multidisciplinary Approach Daniel van Steenberghe
ed., Mel Rosenberg
Beating Bad Breath: Your Complete Guide to Eliminating and Preventing
Halitosis by Richard A. Miller
The Bad Breath Book by Fred Siemon