Halitosis or bad breath, is related to a variety of causes. Some naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth can produce gaseous compounds that result in bad breath. For others, halitosis is caused by a dry mouth, which may be as a result of medications or existing medical conditions. Bad breath is quite often also found in people with gum diseases, abscesses and mouth sores. These diseases are more often than not caused by deplorable oral hygiene, dentures, smoking, or teeth restorations. The simpler causes of halitosis, like poor oral hygiene, may be treated by regular teeth brushing and flossing and visits to the dentist. Additional prevention of bad breath can be achieved by rinsing with a mouthwash after brushing and flossing teeth. However, for the more complex factors contributing to halitosis, a holistic approach can be taken to reduce its presence.
- Drink Tea; preliminary studies suggest that both green and black tea contains compounds called polyphenols. These may stop the growth of bacteria responsible for bad breath.
- Mouthwash; try to use mouthwash containing zinc ions. Zinc is thought to directly neutralise malodorous sulphur compounds and improve breath. This type of mouthwash should be available in several health food stores. An alternative is using mouthwash with essential oils contained in them. Studies suggest that essential oils may help to reduce bad breath. It is preferable to use a commercially prepared product, possibly available in your nearest health food store, rather than buying essential oils and mixing them with mouthwash to create your own concoction. If in doubt, always consult your dentist for advice. Avoid mouthwash that contain high levels of alcohol. Alcohol creates dry mouth, and this contributes to halitosis.
- Drinking fluids; fluids help to keep the mouth cavity moist, thus eliminating dry mouth, a common cause of bad breath. Drink plenty of water and other fluids to promote this. Also, note that halitosis is often the result of excess heat in the stomach–water, soup and watery fruits and vegetables such as cucumber may help to rebalance the body.
- Herbs; chew on a small sprig of fresh rosemary, parsley, spearmint or tarragon for a minute to reduce bad breath.
- Minimise stress; sometimes halitosis occurs and no substantial cause can be identified. One small preliminary study found that, in healthy young men with good oral hygiene and general health, stress increased the production of volatile sulphur compounds in the mouth. Therefore, participating in stress free and relaxing activities to combat the stresses of life may be a valuable consideration.
- Tongue scraper; when used, this will help to remove dead cells, food particles and bacteria from the tongue. This special plastic instrument should easily be found in drug stores and some health food stores, and are relatively inexpensive. Tongue scraping is recommended as a daily regimen, just like teeth brushing and flossing, however, if you cannot obtain a tongue scraper, use a toothbrush to clean your tongue.