Most people have bad breath now and then, it's the constant or recurring cases of bad breath that can offend work associates, friends, and family and loved ones. It can become a very real social problem. In medical terms it is call halitosis.
Whatever the cause of your bad breath, the most common remedy is ineffective and counterproductive. Mouthwash is the enemy to which I am referring.
Mouthwashes are a combination of flavors, a bit of dye, and too much alcohol. Any ER doctor will recount a story about a child they had seen near death from drinking mouthwash. Most are about 20% alcohol... wait, let me go check. The generic brand I just found in my house is 21.6% alcohol. This is more than beer and wine! (We have it as a sample from our previous dentist).
While the claims that mouthwash kill bacteria are true, it's also true that the bacteria quickly come back-and in greater force than before you used the mouthwash. (Yes, there are good brands out there, getting to that).
Too much mouthwash is irritating to the gums, the palate, the tongue, and the mucous membranes of the mouth. And in a small percentage of people who are susceptible, and in particular if they smoke and drink, heavy use of mouthwash can cause certain types of cancer.
If you do want to use something to freshen your breath, you can put a few drops of peppermint oil in a glass of water and rinse (do not swallow it). You can get peppermint oil at a pharmacy and probably all over the Internet.
Halitosis or bad breath has a number of cause the most obvious being dental hygiene. If you don't brush and floss your teeth regularly tiny bits of food will become lodge between teeth you barely knew you had in your mouth and those will decompose. Imagine a dead person in your mouth... yes, gross.
Of course you already know you should brush and floss your teeth twice a day, but there are some other measures you can take to ensure fresh smelling breath.
Brushing your tongue is probably the single most effective thing you can do. (I personally chew sugar-free gum, but I know that's bad.) In studies it has been shown that tongue brushing alone is a better guard against bad breath than brushing only the teeth.
Flossing of course is so important. I am always flossing and it annoys lots of people, but my gums are healthy while I am not, go figure.
Replace your toothbrush about every 2 months. If you could only see the bacteria on that thing, you'd replace it more often. I personally love my Sonicare and I replace the head about every 3 months and my hygienist loves me for it.
If you are somewhere you can't brush, use water and swish it around your mouth vigorously.
Snacks like carrots, apples and celery help fight the development of plaque on teeth according to every dentist I've ever known. I've dated several, what's up with that?
Visit your dentist twice yearly not only for cleaning, but for an examination of your mouth. This is so important if you are a smoker of course!
Some foods are well-known offenders as far as bad breath goes. Garlic is probably the one that comes to everyone's mind. However, there are others like: raw onions, hot peppers, cheeses, anchovies, sardines, pepperoni and other foods I'm sure you can think of. Ugh!
Other causes of bad breath like postnasal drip from sinusitis can cause bad breath also. So can alcoholism, kidney failure, liver disease, an ulcer, as well as certain medications.
If you have chronic bad breath (lasting longer than 6 months) see your physician.
Natural Prescriptions For Bad Breath:
* Avoid the use of commercial mouthwashes; Toms of Maine makes a wonderful line of oral care products. Biotene also makes alcohol-free products that help keep the bacteria level in your mouth in check.
* Eliminate the offending foods discussed in this article or others that you think might be causing you to have bad breath.
* Brush your teeth with care at least twice a day.
* If you can't brush after meals, simply rinse your mouth with plain water.
* Visit your dentist twice yearly for a thorough cleaning and examination to elimination other causes of bad breath: cavities, bleeding gums, abscessed teeth, throat infection, etc.
* Clean dentures, or partials carefully.
* Eliminate offending foods.
* See your physician or clinic if bad breath persists.
Amy Otis, RN is the founder of several health-related web sites. She currently writes for
Drop by, you might just learn something.