Research suggests that more than 80 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath (known as halitosis). There are a bevy of bad breath-fighting products such as gum, mints and mouthwash; unfortunately, these products only mask the problem instead of addressing it at its core.
Let’s look at some of the most common causes of bad breath, as well as some foods that are known to fight it.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Many people believe that smelly foods such as garlic and onions cause bad breath. This is true — after you digest these foods, they may enter your bloodstream, travel to your lungs and affect your breath. Another no-no? Sweets and sticky foods. Odor-causing oral bacteria thrives on sugary foods. Also, eating a high amount of protein produces a by-product of ammonia, which is released through the breath.
Other causes of bad breath include the following:
- Poor Oral Hygiene: Failing to brush and floss consistently leaves food particles to decay in the mouth, causing a strong odor. Also, many people neglect to properly clean their tongue, where the smelliest types of bacteria (called gram-negatives) like to hide.
- Infections in the mouth: Mouth wounds from oral surgery (e.g., tooth extraction), gum disease or sores can cause a strong smell.
- Colds: Having a stuffy nose usually forces you to breathe through your mouth, which dries it out and reduces the flow of saliva. Saliva is the mouth’s natural cleanser, and less of it means more bacteria.
- Medications: Certain medications cause a decrease in saliva production; or, they are broken down in the body and release chemicals that can be carried on the breath.
Other causes include periodontal disease (gum disease) and poor gastrointestinal health.
Foods to Incorporate into Your Diet
If you’re struggling with breath that is less-than-fresh, try incorporating more of the following foods into your diet.
The Vitamin D in yogurt (as well as milk and cheese) is good for fighting bacteria growth and reducing plaque and gum disease. Check the nutrition labels and avoid yogurts with too much sugar.
Crunchy Fruits and Veggies
Crunchy fruits and vegetables — like apples, celery and carrots — are great for saliva production, which as mentioned, rinses and cleans the mouth.
Chewing on fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, spearmint and rosemary, or adding them to hot water (like a tea), is great for keeping breath fresh.
Green tea is full of flavonoids that prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth and causing bad breath.
Enjoy a Beautiful, Healthy Smile
For more information about keeping breath fresh and your teeth in great condition, contact Orlando oral and maxillofacial surgeon Ronald Trevisani.