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10 Facts Everyone Needs to Know About Bad Breath

Written by Dr. Edward Group Founder
Do you have bad breath?

Bad breath can negatively impact your life, as well as those around you. It can isolate and make you feel self-conscious, and that's assuming you’re even aware of it! Friends and colleagues may keep their distance if your bad breath is a chronic concern and you may never even realize how much it impacts your relationships and opportunities. [1] However, knowledge is power. Being armed with the following 10 facts about bad breath is one step closer to never falling prey to bad breath, and living a more rich and confident life. Let's take a look...

10 Bad Breath Facts

Fact #10. ‘Halitosis’ is a New ‘Concern’

It was only as recent as the 1920's that halitosis became a plague to our mouths when Gerard Lambert of Listerine took an obscure term for bad breath…and turned it into a marketing bonanza. Bad breath has been acknowledged for millennia, but until Listerine began telling us how bad our lives were with it, bad breath, or halitosis, had never been publically viewed as a social concern. [2]

Fact #9. If It's Something You Ate, It Needs To Work Through Your System

If the meal you just ate included a healthy serving of onions and garlic, sorry to say, you will just have to wait. In this case, the odor you experience is a result of digesting the sulfuric compounds in the onion (these are good for your health), or the allicin (again a healthy sulfur-based food compound) from the garlic.

As your body breaks down these compounds, they travel through your blood stream and can remain in your body for days. These compounds travel through the blood for excretion by the lungs, kidneys and skin. [3] If you’ve brushed and flossed and still find yourself with bad breath after a good meal of garlic and onions, take comfort in knowing that the garlic is good for you and the bad breath is temporary.

Fact #8. Smoking is Bad for Your Breath

No surprise here, smoking causes many changes to the mouth. For one, you introduce to your mouth all of the chemicals contained within that tobacco smoke. Many of these chemicals dry the mouth and encourage growth from the ‘wrong’ type of bacteria. On top of all this, it can damage the tissue in the mouth leading to infection and diseases such as cancer.

If you’re wondering about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ bacteria, you need to know about…

Fact #7. You Don’t Want VSCs

VSCs, or Volatile Sulfuric Compounds, cause most bad breath. The waste released by these bacteria are the primary source of these compounds. This is the reason your dentist has told you to brush daily! Not all bacteria produce these VSCs, just the ones you don’t want in your mouth. For example...

Fact #6. Streptococcus salivarius is Your Friend

Like it or not, the human mouth contains billions of bacteria. [4] One such ‘friendly’ bacteria is Streptococcus salivarius, a naturally occurring oral bacteria. This friendly bacteria occurs in higher levels in people who do not have halitosis. [5] A bacteria like this doesn’t produce those nasty VSCs.

Fact #5. Xerostomia Promotes the Wrong Bacteria

Xerostomia is dry mouth. You know dry mouth, the rough, cottony feeling you may feel first thing in the morning. It occurs as a result of reduced saliva production. Some causes of dry mouth include:

  • Consuming dehydrating food and drink, such as coffee and alcohol.
  • Mouth breathing dries out the mouth (and is often the cause of ‘morning breath’!).
  • The side effect of many medications is dry mouth. Some of these medication types include antihistamines, antidepressants, anticholinergics, anorexiants, antihypertensives, antipsychotics, anti-Parkinson agents, diuretics and sedatives. [6]
  • Chronic or more serious medical conditions can lead to dry mouth.

If you find yourself with dry mouth, drink some water and stay hydrated. Which bring us to…

Fact #4. Saliva Reduces Bad Breath

When properly hydrated, you produce healthy amounts of saliva. Saliva prevents unwanted bacteria from moving in as it continually cleans the mouth. Healthy saliva levels also help clear food particles from the mouth and keep the tongue clean.

Fact #3. Unhealthy Dieting can Lead to Halitosis

Frequent dieting can lead the body to function improperly. Many diets focus on quick weight loss through unbalanced diets. When these diets do not create long-term results, another diet soon follows. In some cases, continual dieting can lead to higher than normal levels of ketones. [7] Ketones, which occur as a by-product of the breakdown of fatty acids, are expelled through the lungs. The smell is often likened to fruit or nail polish remover (acetone). [8]

Fact #2. Persistent Bad Breath May Indicate a More Serious Concern

Persistent bad breath may indicate a greater health concern. It could indicate your body has a more serious medical condition, and the smell comes from exhaling chemical compounds, such as in the breakdown of the ketones noted in Fact #3.

Fact #1. Covering It Up Doesn't Work

Often we try to cover up our bad breath with mouthwashes or gum. These typically only try to overpower the odor, rather than making it go away. To eliminate bad breath, you need to clean the mouth and reestablish the natural balance of saliva flow and healthy bacteria. To do this you need to brush and floss daily to keep your mouth clear of food particles and prevent plaque development. Plaque feeds the nasty bacteria that create those noxious VSCs!

To assist your brushing and flossing, you may want to consider an all-natural mouth rinse. One that doesn’t use alcohol and detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate. Check back in a couple days to learn more about 10 Causes of Bad Breath…

References (8)
  1. Zalewska A, Zatoński M, Jabłonka-Strom A, Paradowska A, Kawala B, Litwin A. Halitosis--a common medical and social problem. A review on pathology, diagnosis and treatment. Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2012 Sep;75(3):300-9.
  2. Twitchell, James B. Twenty Ads That Shook The World. Crown Publishers, New York, 2000.
  3. Suarez, F.; Springfield, J.; Furne, J.; Levitt, M. Differentiation of mouth versus gut as site of origin of odoriferous breath gases after garlic ingestion. Am. J. Physiol. 1999, 276(2 Pt 1), G425–30.
  4. Cromie, William J. Discovering who lives in your mouth: Bacteria give clues to cancer and gum disease. Harvard University Gazette, August 22, 2002. (last accessed 2013-06-10)
  5. Kazor CE, Mitchell PM, Lee AM, Stokes LN, Loesche WJ, Dewhirst FE, Paster BJ. Diversity of bacterial populations on the tongue dorsa of patients with halitosis and healthy patients. J Clin Microbiol. 2003 Feb;41(2):558-63.
  6. Cathy L. Bartels, Pharm.D. Xerostomia information for dentists. School of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences, University of Montana – oral cancer foundation.org.
  7. Pankaj Shah, M.D., William L. Isley, M.D. Ketoacidosis during a low-carbohydrate diet. N Engl J Med 2006; 354:97-98.
  8. Eisenbarth GS, Polonsky KS, Buse JB. Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus. In: Kronenberg HM, Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR. Kronenberg: Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 31.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.



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