Everyone, at one point or the other in life, has had to deal with bad breath. Unfortunately, if the smell does not improve after brushing, flossing, and rinsing the mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash, it may be chronic.
Consistently having bad breath is not only off-putting but can morph into a health issue with life threatening consequences if left unchecked.
Bad breath, also called halitosis in medical terms, is the emanation of a foul smell or odour from the mouth cavity. This odour can originate in the mouth, throat or tonsils and can be acutely embarrassing to anyone. The condition which afflicts approximately 50 per cent of the world population is brought on by consistent unhealthy oral hygiene and lifestyle.
The oral odour is usually caused by a group of anaerobic, sulphur-producing bacteria that breed beneath the surface of the tongue and often in the throat and tonsil area. The term ‘anaerobic’ literally means living without oxygen, and in fact, these bacteria do not require oxygen to live. They occur naturally in the oral environment and are essential because they assist in digestion by breaking down proteins into amino acids.
As these bacteria feast on proteins in the mouth, sulphur compounds are released from the back of the tongue and throat. The bacteria excrete waste as hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan, and other odorous and bad tasting compounds known as volatile sulphur compounds. As long as the anaerobic bacteria feed on proteins and excrete volatile sulphur compounds unchecked, your breath will become worse and worse.
The good news is that; with a few simple adjustments to food, lifestyle and oral hygiene, anyone afflicted with chronic bad breath can breathe easy without fear of embarrassment.
Listed below are 11 simple and super easy self-care techniques to help minimise and eliminate bad breath.
1. Prevention: This is always better and less expensive than cure, so develop and cultivate the right habits always.
2. Proper oral care: Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. Be sure to get a toothbrush with soft bristles (as to not damage tooth enamel or gums) and also use fluoride toothpaste. Brushing and flossing helps to remove any food and plaque which can be used as a fuel source by the anaerobic, sulphur-producing bacteria that are at the root of this problem.
3. Brush occasionally with baking soda: The bacteria that causes bad breath thrives in an acidic oral environment. Brushing your teeth with baking soda helps neutralise excess acid found in the oral cavity.
4. Eat foods rich in fibre: High fibre foods help prevent halitosis. Avoid or reduce your intake of heavily processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates such as cookies, cakes, sweets and ice cream.
5. Stimulate your salivary flow: Prevent dry mouth with chewing gum, lozenges, or mints that are sugar free.
6. Never use alcohol based mouthwash: Some mouthwash or oral rinses are effective at preventing bad breath. However, you should never use alcohol based mouthwashes because the alcohol makes the mouth very dry, which will actually make the problem worse.
7. Drink green and black tea: They contain polyphenols that help eliminate sulphur compounds and reduce oral bacteria.
8. Avoid products with sodium lauryl sulphate or alcohol: Do not use any oral hygiene products that contain sodium lauryl sulphate or alcohol because the alcohol makes the mouth very dry, one of the most common causes of bad breath.
9. Clean your mouth after eating meat, fish or dairy products: Practicing consistent and thorough oral hygiene is an effective prevention tool.
10. Stop smoking: Studies have shown that smokers are at higher risk of developing periodontal disease and dry mouth. Furthermore, people who smoke may also engage in other habits that promote this condition such as dieting, drinking alcohol, and suffering from chronic anxiety conditions that require exacerbating prescription medications.
11. Eliminate dairy products from your diet: Lactose intolerance can be an underlying cause of halitosis.
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