Halitosis is a term used to describe noticeably unpleasant odors exhaled in breathing and is estimated to be the third-most-frequent reason for seeking dental care, following tooth decay and periodontal disease. In most cases, it originates in the mouth, itself. Eating certain foods (such as garlic, onions, meat, fish, cheese and spices), obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption can cause bad breath. Poor oral hygiene, crooked teeth, mouth-breathers, post-nasal drip and sinus infections also contribute to halitosis. Another possible cause is acid reflux and/or GERD which allow acid to enter the esophagus and gases to escape into the mouth. The most common location for mouth-related halitosis is the tongue. There are over 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth.
Lemons, cinnamon sticks, parsley, mint sprigs, and other green garnishes are great emergency deodorizers, but their effects won’t last, especially if your bad breath is chronic.
The most common strategies for treating bad breath are the following:
1. Gently cleaning the tongue surface twice daily is the most effective way to keep bad breath in control; that can be achieved using a tooth brush, tongue cleaner or tongue brush/scraper to wipe off the bacterial biofilm, debris, and mucus.
2. Eating a healthy breakfast with rough foods helps clean the very back of the tongue.
3. Chewing gum: Since dry-mouth can increase bacterial buildup and cause or worsen bad breath, chewing sugarless gum can help with the production of saliva, and thereby help to reduce bad breath. Chewing may help particularly when the mouth is dry, or when one cannot perform oral hygiene procedures after meals (especially those meals rich in protein). This aids in provision of saliva, which washes away oral bacteria, has antibacterial properties and promotes mechanical activity which helps cleanse the mouth.
4. Gargling right before bedtime with an effective mouthwash. Several types of commercial mouthwashes have been shown to reduce malodor for hours in peer-reviewed scientific studies. Mouthwashes may contain active ingredients that are inactivated by the soap present in most toothpastes. Thus it is recommended to refrain from using mouthwash directly after toothbrushing with paste.
5. Maintaining proper oral hygiene, including daily tongue cleaning, brushing, flossing, and periodic visits to dentists and hygienists. Flossing is particularly important in removing rotting food debris and bacterial plaque from between the teeth, especially at the gumline. Dentures should be properly cleaned and soaked overnight in antibacterial solution.