Garlic may be okay for scaring off vampires, but don't keep others from getting close to you this Halloween because of bad breath (halitosis).
Bad breath results from two key issues: oral hygiene and gastrointestinal health. Breath odors originate not just inside the mouth but also from your digestive tract. The offender in both cases is primarily bacteria.
How Does What You Eat Affect Breath?
Essentially, all the food you eat begins to break down in your mouth during the chewing process. As foods are digested and absorbed into your bloodstream, they are eventually carried to your lungs and given off in your breath. Pungent foods such as garlic and onions are notorious offenders because they contain odorous molecules known as mercaptans which are actually sulphur compounds in themselves. As these foods are digested, particular compounds are transmitted from the blood through the lungs and exhaled for up to 24 hours. The odor will not go away completely until the foods have passed through your body.
Other culprits include curry and exotic spices. Red meat is also one of the major causes, not just because of how it reacts in your mouth, but because it is also difficult to break down and digest. Heavy intake of dairy foods (most notably cheese) can also contribute to bad breath especially for individuals who are lactose intolerant.
High protein diets may also cause bad breath. The body produces ketones when it burns fat on a high protein diet. Ketones are expelled from the body in the urine, perspiration and breath.
Most people realize that tobacco, alcohol and heavy coffee consumption can have a negative affect on oneâ€™s breath. However, many are unaware that foods with high acidity levels, such as tomato juice, orange juice and grapefruit juice all contribute to halitosis as well.
What Are Some Other Factors That Contribute to Bad Breath?
Ill-fitting dentures, dental caries and periodontal disease may cause bad breath. The medical condition dry mouth (also called xerostomia) can also contribute to halitosis. Dry mouth may be caused by the side effects of various medications. The most common medications that lead to bad breath are oral antihistamines.
Many other diseases and illnesses may cause bad breath including pneumonia, bronchitis diabetes, postnasal drip, sinus infections, and liver or kidney problems. Some illnesses, such as some cancers and metabolic disorders, can cause a distinctive breath odor as a result of chemicals they produce.
Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) has been associated with bad breath.
What Can I Do to Eliminate Bad Breath?
Good oral hygiene is an essential component in the fight against bad breath. If you don't brush and floss your teeth daily, food particles can remain in your mouth, which promotes bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue.
Certain herbs are known to help fight bad breath including parsley, coriander, spearmint, tarragon and rosemary. Chewing sugarless cinnamon flavored gum may also help.
Avoid breath mints and mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Many mouthwashes contain alcohol â€”some are up to 26 per cent proof. Instead of helping, they can exacerbate the problem by drying out the mouth, and at best, only provide a temporary fix.
When you brush your teeth, remember to also brush your tongue. The tongue is covered with thousands of tiny hairs that can trap bacteria.
Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months.
Drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water every day.