What causes halitosis, commonly known as bad breath?

It is most often caused by poor daily hygiene. When the constantly forming dental plaque is not removed daily from all the surfaces of the teeth (including in between down under the gum), the bacteria in the plaque multiplies increasing it’s destructive power. When food is consumed, molecules remain in the mouth. The bacteria change these molecules into volatile sulfur compounds (think rotten eggs). The biggest culprit is usually the tongue. A good habit to start is sticking your tongue out at yourself before you brush your teeth. If there is a coating on it, then you can be sure there are odor causing sulfur compounds nestling. Brushing or scraping will remove them. Brushing, flossing and tongue scraping performed before sleeping enormously reduces “morning breath”.

Other causes of halitosis are: tooth abscess, alcoholism, cavities, a not well balanced pH diet, nasal congestion, lung infections, tobacco use, large doses of vitamin supplements, some medications AND some foods like onions and garlic whose odors pass from your bloodstream and into your lung tissue where you breath them out into the air. Some “garlic breath” remedies are:

  1. Try mustard: take 1 teaspoon and swish it around your mouth, spit it out, then take another ½ teaspoon and swallow it. The turmeric in the mustard neutralizes the garlic/sulfur compound.
  2. Chew fresh parsley for it’s high levels of chlorophyll- a toxin eliminating substance.
  3. Try chewing mint, cardamom, fennel, anise seeds and cloves.
  4. Drink a glass of full fat milk.
  5. Eat 6 ounces of yogurt.
  6. Chew coffee beans.
  7. Consume cold foods- heat intensifies garlic breath- lemonade is especially helpful
  8. Indulge in a cup of green or mint tea.

Persistent garlic-like breath without having consumed garlic can be a sign of a medical issue- call your doctor!

Call Dental Program Manager, Patricia Miller, at (860)278-4163 x 23 or email: patriciam@hglhc.org to make that bad breath sweet as a rose!