Bad breath, also called halitosis, can be embarrassing and in some cases may even cause anxiety. It's no wonder that store shelves are overflowing with gum, mints, mouthwashes and other products designed to fight bad breath. But many of these products are only temporary measures because they don't address the cause of the problem.
Certain foods, health conditions and habits are among the causes of bad breath. In many cases, you can improve bad breath with consistent proper dental hygiene. If simple self-care techniques don't solve the problem, see your dentist or physician to be sure a more serious condition isn't causing your bad breath.
Bad breath odors vary, depending on the source or the underlying cause. Some people worry too much about their breath even though they have little or no mouth odor, while others have bad breath and don't know it. Because it's difficult to assess how your own breath smells, ask a close friend or relative to confirm your bad-breath questions.
Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible causes. They include:
- Food. The breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can increase bacteria and cause a foul odor. Eating certain foods, such as onions, garlic and spices, also can cause bad breath. After you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and affect your breath.
- Tobacco products. Smoking causes its own unpleasant mouth odor. Smokers and oral tobacco users are also more likely to have gum disease, another source of bad breath.
- Poor dental hygiene. If you don't brush and floss daily, food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. A colorless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth. If not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis). Your tongue also can trap bacteria that produce odors. Dentures that aren't cleaned regularly or don't fit properly can harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles.
- Dry mouth. Saliva helps cleanse your mouth, removing particles that cause bad odors. A condition called dry mouth or xerostomia (zeer–o-STOE-me-uh) can contribute to bad breath because production of saliva is decreased. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to "morning breath," and it worsens if you sleep with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth can be caused by a problem with your salivary glands and some diseases.
- Medications. Some medications can indirectly produce bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.
- Infections in your mouth. Bad breath can be caused by surgical wounds after oral surgery, such as tooth removal, or as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores.
- Other mouth, nose and throat conditions. Bad breath can occasionally stem from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor. Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause bad breath.
- Other causes. Diseases, such as some cancers, and conditions such as metabolic disorders, can cause a distinctive breath odor as a result of chemicals they produce. Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can be associated with bad breath. Bad breath in young children can be caused by a foreign body, such as a piece of food, lodged in a nostril.
Merc Sol: For Bad Breath with Moist Mouth
If Bad Breath is accompanied by a moist mouth and increased saliva, Merc Sol is the top remedy. All the persons needing this natural medicine emit a highly offensive odor from the mouth with a constantly moist mouth due to increased saliva. The salivary glands are overactive and produce saliva in high amounts. The saliva is also offensive. The odor of breath is so severe that it fills the whole room. Along with excessive saliva, the thirst for water also increases. Merc Sol is also helpful in the treatment of Bad Breath arising out of dental conditions like tooth decay and gum infection with spongy, bleeding, discharging gums. Merc Sol is a highly preferable medicine for Bad Breath with ulcers in the mouth as well. A sweet metallic taste may be present along with Bad Breath in all the conditions mentioned above.
Pulsatilla: For Bad Breath with Dry Mouth
For Bad Breath with a dry mouth, Pulsatilla is the best natural remedy. Pulsatilla works very well in cases of Bad Breath with a dry mouth. Also, the patient has no desire to drink water in spite of a dry mouth, which adds to the offensiveness of the odor. The tongue seems to be covered with thick mucus. The taste of mouth is also varied, ranging from salty, bitter and foul or in a few cases, no taste at all.
Kreosote: Bad Breath from decayed teeth or Cavities
Kreosote proves to be the best treatment for Bad Breath due to decayed teeth. Kreosote is of great help in removing Bad Breath which is a result of caries teeth. Some persons may also complain of bleeding from gums along with decayed teeth. Bitter taste in mouth is frequently noticed.
Hepar Sulph and Carbo Veg: For Bad Breath with Gum Infection
The main gum infections that cause a bad mouth odor are Gingivitis (inflamed gums) and Pyorrhoea Alveolaris (discharge of pus and/or blood from gums). Both Hepar Sulph and Carbo Veg show their worth in treating gum infections. Hepar Sulph can be taken in all cases were only pus is discharged from the gums with offensive breath. Hepar Sulph helps treat the root cause and aids in the absorption of the pus from gums, thereby reducing the intensity of Bad Breath. Carbo Veg is the best remedy to treat foul breath associated with discharge of both pus and blood from gums. If pus and blood from gums with Bad Breath are accompanied by salivation, then Merc Sol is the best remedy.
Carbolic Acid: For Bad Breath with Constipation
The accompanying symptoms to use Carbolic Acid include a bloated abdomen due to constipation. The abdomen is painful due to excessive wind in it. The person may also complain of decreased or extreme loss of appetite. Nausea and bad taste in mouth are the added symptoms.e.t.c