Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.
Bad breath, known as halitosis, is usually caused by something going on in the mouth. However, that is not always the case. Mouth-related bad breath makes up 85 percent of the cases. The other 15 percent might be caused by something else, such as disorders in the nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, esophagus, or stomach.
If there is any good news about bad breath is that it is not associated with any serious medical condition such as liver failure or ketoacidosis.
Causes of Bad Breath
Anyone can have bad breath. It is an embarrassing situation that affects approximately 25 to 30 percent of people around the world.
Poor oral hygiene is often the cause of halitosis, but that is not always the cause. Bad breath can come from a number of sources. See the chart below.
|Cause||Description||What To Do About It|
Sugary foods, acidic foods, foods that dry out mouth, foods with strong odor such as onions and garlic
Brush and floss often especially after eating certain foods
Food particles left between teeth
Brush and floss after every meal and at bedtime
Billions of bacteria could be left on tongue
Brush tongue and use tongue scraper
Tonsil stones formed
Gargle with hot water with salt in it
Acid reflux, some medications
Eat yogurt to cure bad breath
Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth after eating is very important, and you should do so after every meal and at bedtime.
If you do not brush after every meal, food particles remain between the teeth and the bacteria goes below the gum line. Not only will the bacteria cause bad breath, but it might also lead to an infection.
Flossing is important because it is a way to get food from between your teeth that is missed by brushing. People who floss regularly are less likely to have bad breath than those who don't floss.
Scrape Your Tongue
Don't be like the majority of people who forget about brushing or scraping their tongue. You simply put a small amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush or scraper and gently brush the entire top of your tongue. Then rinse your mouth with water.
Did you know that you can buy a toothbrush with a scraper on the back? It will remind you to scrape your tongue after brushing your teeth.
All mouthwashes are not equal. Make sure you use alcohol-free mouthwash. Almost all mouthwashes on the market contain about 27 percent alcohol. Alcohol in mouthwash causes dehydration and dry mouths. When your mouth is dry, it may have an unpleasant and embarrassing odor.
The next time you buy a mouth rinse, check to see if it contains alcohol.
Check for Tonsil Stones
Tonsil stones are a mixture of debris and bacteria that form at the back of the throat. They often cause bad breath. You can avoid tonsil stones or get rid of them by brushing your teeth and tongue and flossing on a regular basis.
Wear Clean Dentures
If you wear dentures, care for them just as you care for your own natural teeth. Make sure you keep your dentures clean. Brush and soak them to keep bacteria out of your mouth that causes it to smell.
Drinking water during the day does more than keep you well hydrated. It will stimulate your salivary flow and prevent bad breath.
Drink at least 8 eight-ounce glasses of water throughout the day. Add lemon or lime to keep the saliva flowing so your mouth stays moist. After enjoying foods with strong odors, try sucking on a lemon slice or squeezing one into some water to combat bad breath.
Cut Back On Coffee, Alcohol, and Cigarettes
While drinking water helps with halitosis, drinking a lot of coffee doesn't. There is nothing wrong with people drinking a cup of coffee in the mornings to help them start their day. However, if they drink it all through the day, the caffeine will cause dehydration and dryness of the mouth by slowing down the production of saliva.
Instead of drinking coffee all day long, substitute it for green tea or a glass of water.
Something as simple as eating yogurt can eliminate bad breath and give you a fresh breath. It is amazing that bacteria in the food will kill the bacteria in your mouth.
Research was conducted by a team of Japanese microbiologists. They discovered that a diet of two 3-ounce servings of plain sugarless yogurt each day attacked bacteria on the tongue.
Participants showed an 80 percent decrease in hydrogen sulfide that causes bad breath after eating yogurt for six weeks.
Therefore, the remedy for bad breath is in the dairy aisle of your grocery store.
Chew Fresh Herbs and Citrus
Herbs and spices are natural breath fresheners. Chew on just a couple fresh parsley, cilantro, or mint leaves for breath that smells and tastes fresh without the artificial additives.
Some spices, like anise seeds, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks, are also known for their freshening qualities. Chewing a handful of fennel seeds or cloves will help reduce bacteria that cause halitosis as well. Chew, but do not swallow them.
Chewing a lemon or orange rind for a few moments will make your mouth smell better. The citric acid will get your salivary glands going to prevent dry mouth that causes bad breath.
Use Essential Oils
Mouthwashes can dry out your mouth, especially if they are made with alcohol. Using peppermint is much better. Take a peppermint oil capsule or rinse with a peppermint essential oil mouthwash to get a natural peppermint freshness. Eucalyptus essential oil will also rid your mouth of bad breath. Simply put a drop on your tongue.
Check Your Medication
Some medications cause bad breath, especially if they prevent the production of saliva and cause a person to have a dry mouth.
Antidepressants, antihistamines, and painkillers often cause a person to have a dry mouth, which is usually the cause of bad breath.
Change Your Toothbrush
Some people forget to change their toothbrush. You should change your toothbrush every three to four months and after you get over a sickness.
When you brush with an old toothbrush, you are simply adding more bacteria to your mouth. Besides, frayed and worn bristles will no longer do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
You can buy toothbrushes with color bristles that let you know when you get to a certain point to throw them away.
Watch Your Weight
This is not to suggest that every overweight person has bad breath. However, halitosis could be linked to obesity.
Researchers have found a link between being overweight and having bad breath. They have concluded that the more fat in your body, the more likely your breath will smell bad. That is just another good reason to motivate people to lose weight.
See a Dentist
A professional cleaning from the dentist can freshen your breath. Visit a dentist to get routine exams and regular cleanings. Dentists will let you know if your teeth are decaying or if there are other conditions that might be causing chronic bad breath.
What About Mints?
When people think they have bad breath, they reach for a breath mint. Do breath mints really help?
Many breath mints claim to get rid of bad breath, but some of them actually make your breath worse instead of giving you a clean fresh breath. Check out the mints below and decide which ones are best for you.
Combat strong odor at first
Freshness won't last very long
A quick pop of freshness
Very small; needs more than one
May temporarily stop bad breath
May actually cause bad breath instead of getting rid of it
Reduce oral bacteria by as much as 90 percent.
Sencha Naturals Mints
Sugar-free and vegan; contain green tea to stop bacteria from growing
Listerine PocketPaks Breath Strips
Target the bacteria that cause odor in the first place; in just 30 seconds, one breath strip kills up to 99 percent of bacteria in your mouth
What About Breath Spray?
Breath spray might cause you to have bad breath because it contains alcohol that will dry your mouth.
What About Chewing Gum?
Chewing gum can be a quick way to reduce the bad smell in your mouth after eating, but the freshness won’t last very long.
While you are chewing gum to combat bad breath, the gum may be giving bacteria something to live on. Even sugar-free gum leaves a film in the mouth for bacteria to grow. Therefore, do not rely on chewing gum to get rid of bad mouth for a long time.
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on April 07, 2018:
Thanks, Leland. I enjoy writing about practical things that most people don't know about.
Leland Johnson from Midland MI on April 07, 2018:
another great hub with easy, practical advice. I've heard, as your chart shows, that some alcohol based breath fresheners can actually cause bad breath because they cause the mouth to become very dry which in turn creates a bad odor.
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on February 03, 2018:
Louise, yes there are many causes. Also, there are many remedies that people don't know about. When I did my research, it was interesting to find out that some of the things people do to get rid of bad breath actual make it worse.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 03, 2018:
It's surprising there are so many causes to bad breath. The remedies are interesting to know. I've met people in the past with bad breath, and I never like to say anything.