Having bad breath, also known as halitosis, is not only a social stress but can also mean that there is something going on with your health that needs to be addressed. Sure, there are things that we might eat or drink that can cause our breath to smell somewhat funky, like garlic, onions, coffee, and alcohol, but if you have bad breath consistently it is a good thing to look into the reason why.
Statistically, over 50 million people in the United States suffer from halitosis but many don’t ever seek help for their condition because they are embarrassed.
A healthy, in balance body will not produce the symptom of chronic halitosis. Like a headache or fatigue, bad breath is just one way that your body is telling you that there is a bigger problem needing to be dealt with. Studies indicate that 5-10% of bad breath is actually the result of a serious medical condition – that translates to 2-5 million people who need to tune into what their body is trying to tell them.
Different Types Of Bad Breath
Various conditions (described below) can be identified depending on how your breath smells
- Cheesy smell – bad breath coming from the nasal area
- Fruity smell – could be caused by uncontrolled diabetes
- Fishy smell – could indicate kidney issues
- Acidic smell – could be caused by asthma
- Musty smell – could be caused by liver issues
- Fecal odor – could be caused by a bowel obstruction
Reasons For Bad Breath Explained
Here are just some of the reasons why your breath may smell:
Tooth decay – Tooth decay also known as a cavity is caused by bacteria. If you suffer from tooth decay you may also have inflamed gums, infection and abscesses. All of these things are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria that can cause your breath to smell very foul.
Gum disease – Also known as gingivitis, can also cause bad breath. Plaque builds up on teeth and results in a film that causes the breath to smell. Research has confirmed that bacteria in the mouth are to blame.
Tonsillitis – If you suffer from chronic or acute tonsillitis you may notice that your breath has an odor. About 15-30% of tonsil infections are caused by bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Sinus infection – Sinusitis is caused by an inflammation of the nasal sinuses. When acute, it can be caused by bacteria causing bad breath. If the problem with your sinuses is chronic it may be due to allergies.
Allergies – If you suffer from seasonal allergies you may find that your throat becomes scratchy, your nose is stuffy and your eyes water. Another common symptom of allergies is the buildup of mucus and nasal drip – both of which provide the perfect environment for germs to breed. In your effort to get your allergies under control, you may experience dry mouth which leads to further bad breath.
Candida albicans – Also known as yeast, Candida albicans can cause the breath to smell. This has been shown to be a particular problem for those who have piercings on their tongue, wear dentures or anyone who uses a mouth appliance such as a retainer.
Cancer – Just because you have bad breath does not mean that you have cancer. However, some oral cancers can cause the breath to smell. In some cases, cancer can be detected in its early days by bad breath. There is an actual device that is used to detect lung cancer based on a patient’s breath with much accuracy. In addition, both chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause the mouth to become dry by reducing the production of saliva. Without enough saliva, bacteria will build up and release sulfuric gas which makes the breath smell bad.
Acid reflux – If you suffer from chronic acid reflux, there is a good chance that you also suffer from bad breath. This is due to the influx of acids and food particles in the esophagus and mouth cavity.
H Pylori infection – Helicobacter pylori is a condition that is often associated with ulcers and other problems of the digestive tract. Research has uncovered that persons who suffer from an H Pylori infection also have halitosis.
Liver disease – Liver disease causes musty breath that is known by science as fetor hepaticus. Early stages of liver disease are sometimes diagnosed by this odor.
Kidney failure – Halitosis may be an indicator of kidney failure, according to research. This is most likely due to metabolic changes that can result in dry mouth, too little saliva to keep the mouth clean and an altered sense of taste.
Sjögren’s syndrome – This condition occurs when the body begins to attack exocrine glands such as the salivary glands. This can lead to dry mouth and the development of bacteria leading to halitosis.
Diabetes – Diabetics do not make sufficient insulin and therefore burn fat and produce ketones. Ketone breath is common with diabetes.
Toxic overload – If your body is toxic it can manifest in bad breath. If you consume a diet rich in refined sugars or eat a lot of processed or fast food – it may be time for a detox.
Home Remedies For Bad Breath
Here are some of the easy home remedies that can help reduce the occurrence and severity of bad breath:
Rinsing with saltwater helps to prevent the buildup of bacteria in the throat and mouth. Because salt is slightly acidic it helps balance the alkalizing environment that can cause the growth of microbes causing bad breath
Consuming more fermented food like kombucha can help keep a healthy level of good gut flora that fights off yeast and other bacteria that can cause bad breath. Be sure that you are consuming a healthy diet with plenty of fresh and fermented food.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that pulls toxins from the mouth and removes dead cells that build up overnight. Both of these can cause bad breath.
How To Oil Pull
- Always oil pull first thing in the morning before you have had anything to eat or drink.
- Put 2 teaspoons of fractionated organic coconut oil in your mouth.
- Swish the oil around in your mouth for about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let the oil come in contact with the back of your throat with filtered water.
- Brush your teeth like you would normally.
Consuming more fiber helps your digestive system remove harmful toxins that can build up and cause bad breath. Fiber-rich foods include oranges, carrots, avocados, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, oats, almonds, and apples.
Adding a little baking soda to your toothpaste or making your own toothpaste with baking soda is not only a great way to keep your teeth white, it also changes the pH in the mouth to make it less desirable for bacteria.
Bad Breath Busting Toothpaste
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt, ground finely
- 1 tsp stevia
- ½ cup coconut oil, softened
- 10 drops peppermint essential oil (use only food grade, high-quality oil)
Even if you brush your tongue when you brush your teeth, you may still leave some stubborn bacteria behind. Use a tongue scraper to be sure that your tongue is free from these bad breath-causing bacteria. If you don’t have a tongue scraper, a metal or plastic spoon will do the same.
You can boost your digestive function with herbs such as turmeric, ginger, fennel and black pepper. To aid digestion, enjoy a cup of ginger tea twenty minutes before meals. Chewing cloves is also a good way to naturally relieve bad breath.
Avoid dry mouth by drinking plenty of water. Green tea is also an excellent beverage choice as it has powerful antioxidants that can help fight the growth of undesirable bacteria in the mouth.
We were not designed to breathe through our mouths but many people do just this. The result is that you wake with a very dry mouth and often bad breath. Because our nasal passages are designed to let off nitric oxide that increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to the cells. Breathing through your mouth brings cold and dry air into the lungs, lowers the oxygen level in the body which creates the perfect place for bacteria that thrive in the absence of oxygen. Mouth breathing can also cause your mouth to become dry – reducing the flow of saliva, resulting in bad breath. Training yourself to nose breathe at night can help fight the dreaded “morning breath.”
How To Train Yourself To Nose Breathe
Hold your tongue against the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. Breathe through your nose, feeling your belly rise. Breathe in for three seconds and out for four. Do this exercise 2-3 minutes daily to help train yourself to breathe through your nose.
Exercising daily helps increase ventilation and circulation resulting in an increased cellular turnover in the body. Exercise also helps to keep harmful bugs that cause bad breath away.
Stress is to blame for so many health conditions, bad breath is just one more. Stress can actually change the odor of your body. Chronic stress, day in and day out, can damage your immune system. If you have bad breath, it may be a sign that your immune system is not doing its job. If you are stressed, sweat gland activity increases. When these secretions mix with bacteria in your body they can create an odor. Healthy bacteria are reduced in number and diversity when we are under stress. Do what you can to get a handle on your negative stress response such as practicing meditation, exercising, journaling, taking more time for yourself and learning how to say no.
Sleep is necessary for overall health and wellbeing. We are not machines, the human body was designed to rest at least eight hours a night. A normal sleep and wake cycle, including plenty of good sleep, helps immune system function. You may notice that you get sick easily if you are not sleeping well. If your immune system is not functioning as it should, unwelcome bacteria will thrive. If you suffer from bad breath, take a look at your sleep patterns. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day and relax before bed without electronics. Research shows that we sleep better in a cool and dark room.
Believe it or not, our skin microbiome actually communicates with our oral microbiome. Because of this, rubbing essential oils (with a carrier oil) on your skin can result in fresher and better smelling breath.
Here are two of the best oils to try. Mix a few drops with a carrier oil or add several drops to your bath.
Tea tree oil – this oil is loaded with antibacterial properties.
Lavender oil – this oil is also a natural microbial oil.
More Ways To Remedy Bad Breath
- Chew on an orange peel
- Chew on fennel seeds
- Chew on Anise seeds
- Suck on a cinnamon stick
- Eat fresh parsley after meals
- Brush after each meal
- Floss daily
- Visit the dentist regularly
- Stop smoking
- Munch on carrots