Have you ever gone to work in the morning and suddenly realized you didn’t brush your teeth after breakfast? The blind panic begins creeping in, with soon-to-become-real nightmares of face to face conversations with your boss, or long meetings spent sitting in a cramped room with would-be clients. The source of that panic? Bad breath!
And as if occasionally forgetting to brush and breathing foul odors upon hapless co-workers wasn’t enough, some people experience bad breath on a daily basis — regardless of whether they scrubbed their pearly whites or not. Perhaps you’ve noticed that certain people simply have an unsavory tinge to their breath, or perhaps you’re one of those unfortunate people yourself. Bad breath, more accurately known as halitosis, affects an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the world’s population. You are not alone!
But despite the fact you’re one of many, you probably still don’t want to be included in such an aromatic demographic. In this post, I’ll explore the leading causes of bad breath and identify some of the key natural hacks for curing bad breath once and for all.
The many causes of bad breath
While there are a lot of areas in the realm of human health that science is still in the dark over, bad breath isn’t one of them.
Unsurprisingly, the most common causes of halitosis are dental cavities and gum disease. Your mouth is host to countless microorganisms that together comprise your oral microbiome: a thriving community of bacteria, yeast and protozoa that fulfill important roles in maintaining a healthy mouth… along with promoting various forms of oral disease. When our diet or oral hygiene is lacking, the pathogenic arm of this oral microbiome can burrow into the softer parts of our teeth or take up residence in our gums and cause them to decay.
This process can emit strong sulfurous smells which equate to bad breath: the more advanced the dental decay, the more intense the bad breath. That’s why you often get stronger wafts of halitosis from people who have brown or missing teeth.
Another cause of bad breath is a poor diet. In people who are malnourished, inefficient fat breakdown can create a sort of fermenting fruit odor in their breath. At the same time, an excess of sugary foods and drinks can enable pathogenic bacteria and yeasts like Candida albicans to flourish, and their byproducts can have a definite unpleasant aroma.
And then, of course, there are health conditions like diabetes, dry mouth, throat and sinus infections, intestinal disorders, food intolerances and plenty more besides that can contribute to a less than ideal noxious cloud being emitted from your mouth.
Six ways to cure bad breath, naturally
Obviously, the biggest move in the right direction for bad breath is simply to clean up your health. Eat more nutritious, less sugary foods, minimize stress, stay well hydrated and get plenty of sleep. But that won’t always solve the problem. Here are some proven hacks for treating your bad breath the natural way.
1. Swish some water
It always amazes me how little water most people drink. Considering around 60 percent of our bodies are made up of water, it’s not hard to see how the majority of the population is chronically dehydrated.
For this reason, ditching the soda in favor of a glass of water should be your first port of call when the bad breath hits. To really get the salivary juices flowing, swish some water around in your mouth for 15 to 20 seconds — whether you choose to swallow is your prerogative, but you probably should! Swishing with water is one of the best ways to treat dry mouth, which as I explained earlier is one of the leading causes of halitosis.
2. Use an oral irrigator
While you probably don’t have one of these in the house, you can get one for pennies from your local drug store and they’ll likely make a big difference to your unappealing oral odors. Oral irrigators release a concentrated jet of water into the mouth, helping to dislodge and rinse out an overabundance of bacteria on the tongue, teeth and gums — a common cause of bad breath.
3. Store your toothbrush in vinegar
Believe it or not, brushing teeth can actually contribute to bad breath… but only when the toothbrush you’re using is positively filthy. More often than not, however, the average toothbrush is filthy. Repeatedly getting it wet two to three times a day along with leaving food residues at the base of the bristles after each brush is a guaranteed way to encourage bacterial growth… and you’re putting that bacteria into your mouth every time you use a toothbrush. Tasty!
An easy solution is to store your toothbrush in an antibacterial solution. My favorite bad breath cure is simply to pour about an inch of vinegar (white, apple cider, whatever you’ve got lying around, really) into a narrow jar and store my toothbrush upside down in the jar. Ain’t no bacteria able to live in there!
4. Eat often
This is one natural bad breath cure that’s sure to get people excited: eating more frequently encourages greater saliva production, which in turn lowers risk of dry mouth — a common cause of halitosis. The natural cure, then, is simply to eat more meals or snacks throughout the day.
But that’s no excuse to eat bad food, people! Keep it wholesome and nutritious. Also go easy on dry, salty foods — the arch-nemesis of saliva.
5. Chew on some parsley
In addition to being chock-filled with an impressive array of vitamins and minerals, parsley contains high concentrations of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll, the pigment that gives parsley it’s deep green hue, is a well-known deodorizer and even has intrinsic germ-fighting abilities. Following each meal, simply chew on a few leaves of parsley — preferably organic, and the darker green the better!
6. Munch on an orange
Citric acid has been proven to promote saliva production… and what food is high in citric acid? Why, none other than the humble orange, of course! If your mouth is feeling a little dry or you’ve just remembered you once again skipped your morning toothbrush sesh, simply munching on a few pieces of freshly peeled orange should ensure your bad breath doesn’t make an appearance.
If you don’t have access to an orange, pure orange juice should do the trick — or anything from the citrus family, like lemon, tangerines, limes, that sort of thing. Just be sure to swill some water in your mouth afterward, as an excess of acid in the mouth can also harm your oral microbiome, and hence elevate your risk of bad breath. It’s a fine line!
— Liivi Hess