What bad breath says about your general health and the natural ways you can improve it
04/21/2018 // Zoey Sky // Views

Halitosis, or what's commonly known as bad breath, refers to "the presence of a foul-smelling odor that is expelled from the mouth cavity."

You can't really tell if your breath smells bad by blowing into your hand because the human body is designed in such a way that we're unable to detect our own odor. Even your senses have gotten used to the smell of your own breath. This process, called acclimation, was developed through evolution and it helps us identify strange smells immediately so we don't become overwhelmed by our own odors.

To confirm if you have bad breath, you have several options. First is the "cotton test," where you wipe the top surface of your tongue with a piece of cotton gauze. If the gauze smells bad and there's a yellowish stain on the cotton, you probably have an elevated sulfide production level and bad breath.

The second method is to lick the back of your hand. Let the saliva dry for five to 10 seconds and then smell it. You can also use some floss between your back teeth, which is usually the place where food gets caught, and then smelling the floss. These methods can help you determine the level of odors that others can detect on your breath.

Another option is to stand in front of the mirror and inspect your tongue. Stick your tongue out as far as you can, and if you see that the very back of your tongue is whitish, you may have bad breath.

To get an accurate diagnosis, especially if you believe you have chronic halitosis, consult a dentist or doctor. Be honest during the consultation so they can help you isolate any possible health problems and recommend the necessary treatment. (Related: Bad breath cures revealed: Top 7 ways to overcome severe halitosis for good.)


Anyone can develop halitosis, even if you regularly brush your teeth and floss. Bad breath is often caused by the following factors:

  • The medications you take.
  • Your diet -- Eating certain foods (e.g. coffee, curry, dairy, fish, garlic, meat, onions, and refined sugars).
  • Your health condition -- Illness and disease can also be a factor.
  • Your lifestyle -- Dry mouth, which is often caused by drinking alcohol, smoking, snoring, and long periods of speaking.

Aside from being caused by the food stuck in your teeth, bad breath can be caused by certain illnesses like:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Respiratory tract infections

These illnesses may also result in dry mouth, a major cause of chronic bad breath.

Meanwhile, bronchitis, pneumonia, polyps, post nasal drip, and sinusitis can all affect the airways and contribute to bad breath. Gum disease, mouth infections, nasal odor, and tonsil stores are other common illnesses that are linked to bad breath.

There are also drugs like antidepressants, antihistamines, and high blood pressure medications that cause dry mouth since they reduce saliva production.

Do take note that halitosis is rarely associated with severe diseases. But if you notice "consistent white spots on the tonsils and sores in the mouth with or without a fever," consult a healthcare professional immediately. These symptoms could be caused by severe health conditions like diabetes, digestive system disorders, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, or throat or mouth cancers. These symptoms may also indicate dehydration or zinc deficiency, so take proper care of your teeth to avoid these problems.

Both men and women can develop halitosis due to food and bacteria, but there are certain hormonal triggers in women (e.g. birth control pills, the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy) that can cause mouth dryness that increases the risk for bad breath.

Here are some foods can help prevent bad breath:

  • Fiber-rich foods -- Foods full of fiber, like fruits, nuts, and vegetables, can act as "tiny toothbrushes" that will also help clean your teeth and prevent staining.
  • Fruits and vegetables -- Eating fresh fruits and vegetables can do wonders for your oral health. Berries, oranges, and melons, which are rich in vitamin C, can also help reduce the plaque in your mouth.
  • Green and black teas -- These teas have polyphenols which can help eliminate sulfur compounds and get rid of oral bacteria.
  • Water -- By staying hydrated, you can ensure that your mouth stays healthy. Dehydration can cause different oral health issues like bad breath, cavities, dry mouth, and gingivitis.
  • Yogurt -- According to some studies, the live active cultures in yogurt can help prevent bad breath. Eating yogurt with probiotics ("good" bacteria) can help eliminate "bad" bacteria that cause halitosis.

You can read more articles about dental health and how to prevent bad breath at Dentistry.news.

Sources include:



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