Help, I have bad breath!
We've all had moments when we wish we had chewed gum or had a mint after we've eaten something. Or do you feel that you can't get rid of your bad breath? Every second person is occasionally affected by unpleasantly smelling breath, but it is still taboo to point it out to someone or even to complain about your own problem. But the solutions to permanent bad breath are easier than you might think!
What causes bad breath?
Contrary to the widespread opinion that bad breath originates in the stomach, is due to the tonsils or the metabolism, the cause for 85% of those affected is actually a lack of oral hygiene. But this cannot be generalised: The causes of bad breath, medically called "halitosis", are manifold. Mostly, however, they are due to bacteria that bring the oral flora into an imbalance. More precisely, the harmonious coexistence of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria in the mouth is out of balance and the latter are in the majority. These anaerobic bacteria do not need oxygen, feel most at home in the spaces between the teeth and on the tongue, and feed on protein-rich and sugary food residues. So your diet plays a very important role, because foods like fish, meat, eggs, dairy products and chocolate are particularly tasty to bacteria. The more of these foods you consume, the more intensively the bacteria multiply and emit that unpleasant-smelling sulphur compound that we call bad breath.
What tips and tricks are there to get rid of bad breath?
1. Brush your teeth regularly
Plaque and tartar are among the main causes of bad breath. Brush your teeth regularly and thoroughly, and studies show that electric toothbrushes are more effective than manual toothbrushes. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes to ensure that all plaque is removed from the tooth surfaces. Dental care starts with brushing, but it goes beyond that. Include flossing and mouthwashes with ingredients such as mint oil, in your daily oral hygiene routine to effectively fight bad breath. Mouthwashes in particular help you to keep teeth and gums hygienic and healthy in hard-to-reach places. In addition, for comprehensive individual prophylaxis, it is recommended to visit the dentist twice a year for professional teeth cleaning.
2. You are what you eat!
Apart from brushing your teeth and going to the doctor, it is important to watch what you eat. As described above, poor eating habits have a major impact on bad breath. Especially the most common form of bad breath, "foetor ex ore" (Latin technical term for "bad smell from the mouth"), is mostly caused by these anaerobic putrefactive bacteria.
In addition to consuming bacteria-promoting foods in moderation, eating raw foods such as carrots, apples and celery can help loosen food debris and freshen your teeth. The fibrous skin acts like a brush, which also helps you fight plaque and discolouration. The busy chewing also promotes your saliva flow and rinses your mouth with it. In our article on a healthy diet, you will find a lot more information about how food can influence your oral hygiene.
3. Try a tongue cleaner
A tongue scraper is a tool for cleaning and caring for the tongue that removes the coating from the tongue surface easily, gently and without side effects.
The front two-thirds of your tongue often comes into contact with the roof of your mouth through speaking and swallowing, which keeps it fairly clean. The back third of your tongue, on the other hand, can easily become coated with food residue. This breeding ground for bacteria and fungi can lead to bad breath as well as be responsible for diseases of the oral mucosa. Long known in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian art of healing, tongue scrapers are also becoming increasingly popular in Europe. Let's try something new more often!
4. Don't smoke
It is well known that smoking damages your teeth. But smoking also affects your oral hygiene in other ways. For example, it can cause bad breath, which is much more common in smokers than in people who abstain from tobacco consumption, and it can worsen the perception of smell and taste when eating. It is not only the smell of smoke alone that is responsible for unpleasant breath. Nicotine addiction favours other factors, such as dry mouth.
5. Be careful with medicines
As just mentioned, a dry mouth is often the basis for bad breath. Waking up in the morning with a dry mouth and bad breath is completely normal and happens to more or less everyone. This is because the flow of saliva normally decreases at night. But what if this happens during the day? A common cause of this can be prescribed medication.
To counteract such dry mouth, drink water frequently, but avoid sugary, acidic and caffeinated drinks. You can also chew (sugar-free!) gum to stimulate your saliva flow. In the long run, you should also talk to your doctor to see if there is an alternative medicine that does not dry out your mouth so much.
6. Oil pulling
Have you ever heard of oil pulling? This is not only an effective detox method, but also helps against bad breath! Toxins and smelly substances are bound by the oil and the growth of bacteria is slowed down in the long term. It helps best if you swish one to two tablespoons of cold-pressed oil back and forth in your mouth for five to ten minutes before brushing your teeth. Be sure to swish it around in the spaces between your teeth. Then spit out the oil and rinse your mouth several times with warm water. Would you like to try it out? Then we have more detailed information for you in our article on oil pulling!
If you have been suffering from bad breath for a long time and your everyday life is massively affected by this problem, it makes sense to seek professional advice. Consult a doctor especially if the problem comes on unexpectedly and is accompanied by other symptoms such as headaches and aching limbs or even coughing and breathing difficulties. The doctor can determine the cause of your halitosis, i.e. bad breath, by analysing the gas in the air you breathe out.