Everyone has bad breath from time to time, especially after sleeping. Doctors call it halitosis, and although it sounds serious, it’s not. Most cases of bad breath are caused by bacteria in your mouth, or by the leftover effects of sulfur that is present in certain foods such as broccoli or garlic.
Most of the time, the odor-causing bacteria inside your mouth are kept in check, to some extent, by your own saliva. That’s be cause your saliva is slightly acidic. But when you sleep, the normal flow of saliva slows down, and the environment inside your mouth becomes less acidic. This environment is a wonderful place for odor causing bacteria to multiply and grow. The result: bad breath.
Most people can cure morning breath with a good tooth-brushing. However, if you find that your morning breath tends to linger even after brushing, try these natural remedies for bad breath.
Tips for Home Remedies
Don’t regularly use deodorizing sprays or antiseptic mouth washes like Listerine or Scope unless your dentist recommends it to help control gum disease. Using a mouthwash every day can actually make your bad breath worse by upsetting your mouth’s delicate balances and drying out your mouth. Mouthwashes and deodorants will only temporarily cover up bad breath.
Drink plenty of water. Water will help keep your mouth clean and odor-free. If you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, swish water around in your mouth to wash away food particles. Other beverages, especially coffee and alcohol, tend to linger unpleasantly on your breath. After your body absorbs beer, whiskey or wine, your lungs spend hours trying to get rid of it.
Brush your tongue. Your tongue can contribute to bad breath by gathering food particles and bacteria. If your tongue becomes coated or furry, gently brush it when you brush your teeth. But don’t get carried away — some people have brushed off taste buds and injured their tongues by brushing them too hard and too of ten.
Breathe through your nose at night. Mouth-breathing usually makes morning breath worse because it dries out your mouth even more than usual.
At night, your mouth moves very little and doesn’t make much saliva, so food particles and bacteria tend to stay put. These particles break down while you sleep and cause morning breath. This is why it’s so important to brush your teeth thoroughly at bed time.
Eat something sweet. When you need to quickly cover up bad breath, something sweet will do the trick. The bacteria that cause cavities also fight bad breath. Sugars and other complex carbohydrates help keep bad breath at bay.
Drink buttermilk or eat yogurt with active cultures. The lacto-bacilli in these products make it hard for odor-causing bacteria to grow.
What Are the Implications?
Bad breath that never goes away may be more than embarrassing. It could be a sign of a serious health problem that needs a doctor’s care.
Something as simple as sinusitis can cause bad breath, and treatment with antibiotics may be all you need. Or, bad breath could indicate something as serious as diabetes, kidney or liver failure, a lung infection or Sjogren’s syndrome (a chronic inflammatory disease in which collagen — the connective tissue in skin, ligaments, cartilage and the mouth and gums — breaks down). A mouth ulcer or infection, gum disease or a dry socket left after you’ve had a tooth pulled can also be culprits behind bad breath.
Some prescription drugs, such as antidepressants or medication for angina, can cause your breath to smell bad. Many of these drugs cause dry mouth which can lead to bad breath. You can defeat the effects of these drugs by drinking more water.
If your breath constantly smells sweet and fruity or like ammonia or urine, see your doctor — this could signal serious medical problems.
Check your tongue too. Another clue to your health that’s in your mouth is the color of your tongue. A normal, healthy tongue should be a deep pink color. A pale tongue may mean you’re anemic and need iron. A bright red tongue may indicate a rare disease caused by a deficiency of the B vitamin niacin.
A brownish, hairy tongue could indicate tobacco stains or bacterial growth. “Black tongue” is also a harmless side effect of many prescription drugs. White patches on your tongue could signal a fungal infection or could simply be a result of breathing with your mouth open.
(So there really is a reason your doctor says, “Say Aah”!)