BAD MOUTHING – The science, the causes and several easy at-home remedies to ensure fresh breath all day long
After hearing people complain your breath, you’re likely to go for one of the most common quick-acting solutions: Take a mint or two, drink a glass of water, use mouthwash or, if you’re insecure enough, brush your teeth. But what if any one of those don’t help and it gets even worse? What if your bad breath turns out to come from something more serious than a dry mouth or the tuna sandwich you had for lunch?
Put simply, bad breath is when your mouth releases an odor that is rather unpleasant and is easily noticed by other people around you. It’s like a skunk’s natural defense mechanism, but you’re not doing it on purpose, and you are definitely not happy about it.
Jokes aside, there’s actually a medical term for bad breath: halitosis. And to look at it a bit scientifically, the smell comes from bacteria. You see, we coexist with bacteria since the day we were born, and most of them are good bacteria—those that, when we are in prime condition, keep us healthy and strong. But when they’re disturbed, these bacteria might end up causing discomfort, or worse.
It’s the same principle that’s behind halitosis: Distressed bacteria in our mouth reacts to a disturbance, then produces a biofilm that will coat parts of our mouth; usually ones that are hard to reach like the back of the tongue, below the gum line and so on. Proteins in these biofilms are then broken down into amino acids which then result in the awful smelling gas.
Sounds a bit intricate for something as simple as bad breath, right? Well, the way our body works is wonderfully complex—even when the result is not exactly wonderful. And as such, the solution to halitosis can also be a bit complex, starting from how to recognize the common causes behind it.
Like almost anything else related to your body, the cause of bad breath can range from the most mundane things to something that might actually require serious medical attention. But understanding the entirety of this spectrum can help you in picking the most prudent—and most ideal—treatment options.
Having a dry mouth is the most common cause of bad breath, and it all boils down to the lack of liquid or saliva in your mouth. That’s why the inside of your mouth tastes weird when you just wake up in the morning. And that’s also why we have morning breath. Like a body of water, the moisture content of the human mouth is fresh when it moves and flows, but quickly becomes stale and dirty if it stays still.
Another common cause of halitosis is smoking. Just about every scientific study about smoking mentions bad breath as one of the side effects. Essentially, smoking dries out your mouth and increases the likelihood of gum disease.
Next comes dental issues, which includes two top causes of halitosis: cavities and gum pockets. The former is a bit more straightforward: Cavities, i.e. holes in your teeth, trap food particles that will eventually rot and wreak havoc on the tooth and your breath. The latter is when the gums temporarily separates from the tooth due to diseases and creates small “pockets.” Much like cavities, these provide yet another place for proteins to sneak in and become an odor hazard.
Lastly, there’s infections—mouth, nose and throat infections to be exact. One of your body’s basic self-defense mechanisms against infection (e.g., sinusitis, the flu, etc.) is to create extra mucus, which can smell awful as it fills and clogs all three nasal areas.
So, you’re aware of the causes of halitosis and you’ve done your best to avoid them, but you still suffer from bad breath, then the obvious next step is finding out how to treat it. Preferably before it puts a major dent in your social life and confidence. But before you go straight to a doctor or seek advice from experts, there are some home treatments that you can try.
Fruit is surprisingly effective in refreshing your breath. Eating pumpkin, avocado or unripe guava on a daily basis can help you efficiently remove intestinal putrefaction. Also, guava is a good source of tannic, malic, oxalic and phosphoric acids as well as calcium, oxalate, and manganese—all of which are beneficial for your teeth and gum health. Taking a spoon of apple cider before every meal is a good remedy as well.
Spices and herbs are also great in home remedies for bad breath. Snacking on cloves, fennel or anise after a strong smelling meal will reduce the lingering odors of garlic or salty fish. Obviously, peppermint or carnation, with their strong fresh fragrance, are excellent as well. The best one, we think, is parsley. Boil two cups of water with coarsely cut parsley along with two or three whole cloves or a quarter teaspoon of ground cloves. Stir infrequently while letting it cool, strain it and use the resulting concoction as a natural mouthwash replacement.
Photography Haruns Maharbina
Styling Primawan Hakim
Model Manoel Orfanaki
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