A strict turn-off for anyone, anytime, anywhere is universal- BAD BREATH compromising your professional, social or personal encounters. Everyone suffers from bad breath at some point in their life and some time of the day grappling your confidence and self-respect. The causative agents are a group of anaerobic,sulfur-producing bacteria breeding beneath the tongue, throat and tonsil area which excrete smelly bad tasting compounds while feeding on food sticking in the mouth. When not caused by any underlying medical condition, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough to tackle the problem. Here are some common triggers of bad breath with their respective solutions:

1. Poor oral hygiene: If you don’t regularly brush and floss, bacteria start to build up a “biofilm” on your gums, tongue and in the gum pockets between your teeth. Even when you think you brush well, deposits are still found it difficult to access areas of the mouth.

  • Solution: While this is the commonest cause of bad breath, it is also the easiest to fix. Brush your teeth twice a day covering every tooth surface in circular motions gently cleaning the gum margins, tongue (on top and underneath) and the palate. Regular flossing is equally important as it removes food particles stuck between teeth and gum line-areas inaccessible to regular brushing. The mint flavored floss sticks are my personal favorite being extremely easy to use leaving behind a fresh aftertaste.Visit a dentist for Professional cleaning and polishing of the teeth every year.

2. Gum Disease: Unhealthy gum pockets provide the ideal medium for foul-smelling bacteria to flourish and multiply. Plaque and tartar deposits lead to gum swelling, bleeding and bad taste in the mouth. Women are more susceptible to gum disorders due to hormonal changes.

  • Solution:  Warm saline rinses 2-3 times daily should be a part of your daily routine to maintain gum health. Invest in a non-alcoholic pH balanced Mouthwash to reduce acidic levels in the mouth with prolonged antibacterial effect.

3. Dry Mouth:  Saliva is the most potent natural mouthwash with antibacterial properties and acts as a lubricant, digestive aid and maintains the pH of the mouth. Decreased salivary flow can be caused by a number of factors like smoking, medication, mouth breathing, chemo or radiotherapy, dehydration etc. The mouth loses its ability to clear food particles, resulting in a build-up of gaseous bacteria producing bad breath.  

  • Solution:  Eat at regular intervals, stimulate your salivary flow using sugar-free chewing gum, drink plenty of water regularly and use salivary substitutes if needed.

4. Morning breath: Foul smelling morning wake-up breath is a very common occurrence compelling us to brush first thing in the morning. The body is busy detoxifying, repairing, and regenerating tissues during sleep time. Saliva production dramatically slows down during sleep leading to food stagnation and microbial build-up. 

  • Solution: It is imperative to brush at night to remove any plaque or debris. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and eliminate toxins. Use a good quality antibacterial mouthwash, scrape your tongue well and always breathe from your nose. 

5. Culinary Culprits: Onions, garlic, radish, tea, coffee, dairy food, meat, fish etc. are strong offenders in daily routine giving a rancid breath. Complex carbs, refined and processed sugar, sulfur-rich foods like cauliflower and Brussel sprouts provide a breeding ground for bacteria to emit foul gases.

  • Solution: Eating fibrous fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, guava, potatoes etc. reduces bacterial count in the mouth. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and sweet lime are rich sources of Vitamin C which boosts immunity and also promotes salivation thereby working against bad breath. Rinse your mouth really well after eating to wash away food debris and reduce breeding ground for bacteria. Eat fennel seeds, cardamom, clove, parsley, basil, mint leaves etc. after meals to get fresh breath instantly.

6. Cavities: When there is a defect in the tooth structure, food particles get trapped and cause decay. This also acts as a food trap and can harbour bacteria and produce odour.

  • Solution: Regular dental screening to fix the problem as and when it arises can save you both your Time and Money.

7. Compromised Immunity: Low immune status of the body prevents natural defence mechanisms to act against halitosis producing bacteria presenting as bad breath.

  • Solution: Take multi-vitamins, probiotics and eat a healthy diet.

8. Throat/Sinus Infection: A build-up of bacteria and mucus in the nasal cavity can trickle down the nasal cavity and reside on the back of the tongue causing halitosis.

  • Solution: Cleaning/Brushing the tongue religiously especially the back portion to remove smelly bacteria, food debris and dead cells. Ensure the sinus/throat infection is being treated by ENT Surgeon.

9. Acid reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux disease causes acid leaks from the stomach back up causing a burning sensation in the food pipe and throat, tooth erosions and bad breath.

  • Solution: Consult a gastroenterologist and start taking antacids.

10. Smoking/Alcohol: Consumption of large quantities of alcohol dehydrates the body and dries out the mouth by reduced salivary production. Erosion of stomach lining and vomiting may further worsen the situation. Smoking typically results in a distinct odour.

  • Solution: Moderation in the key!

Fix the root cause of the problem by paying annual visits to your Dentist and getting a regular health checkup. Allay all your anxieties of bad breath and confidently mingle around without offending the nostrils of others. Say goodbye to the humiliation of halitosis FOREVER!