Halitosis is favored especially in case of insufficient drink, difficult digestion or even taking medication. “Halitosis” is the scientific term for bad breath , or the emission by the breath of unpleasant odors whether they are of oral or nasal origin. However, this notion of “unpleasant odor” varies according to the cultures, times and sensitivities specific to each person. In our society, this disorder is considered as a handicap which can hinder the development of harmonious social relations.
How is halitosis formed?
Halitosis most commonly arises from the fermentation of food particles by gram-negative anaerobic bacteria in the mouth. This produces volatile sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan . The bacteria involved can be present in areas of periodontal disease, especially when ulceration or necrosis is present. The responsible microorganisms in fact reside in the deep periodontal pockets located around the teeth. If the periodontal tissue is healthy, these bacteria can proliferate on the posterior part of the back of the tongue .
What are the factors favoring halitosis?
Factors contributing to the excessive growth of the responsible bacteria include decreased salivary flow ( parotid pathology, Sjögren’s syndrome, intake of anticholinergic agents ), salivary stagnation and increased salivary pH.
Certain foods or spices, after digestion, release their odor to the lungs; the exhaled odor may be unpleasant for those around you. For example, a garlic smell is observed in the breath 2-3 hours after consumption, long after the garlic has disappeared from the oral cavity.
What are the causes of halitosis?
The most common causes are :
- Gum disease or periodontal disease
- Ingested foods that contain a volatile compound
Gastrointestinal disorders rarely cause halitosis because the esophagus is normally closed. It is wrong to think that breath odors reflect the state of digestion and bowel functioning.
Other abnormal breath smells :
Several general diseases are responsible for the production of volatile substances detectable in the breath, although not causing the particularly foul, unpleasant odors of halitosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis causes a sweet or fruity acetone smell; liver failure causes a faint sulfurous odor; and kidney failure causes urine or ammonia odor.
The non-oral pathologies identified as factors inducing halitosis include in particular otorhinolaryngological (ENT) pathologies, infections of the gastrointestinal tract and of the upper and lower respiratory tracts, and certain metabolic, psychological or iatrogenic diseases. The gastrointestinal pathologies incriminated are mainly gastroesophageal reflux, Zenker’s diverticulum, achalasia, cancer of the esophagus, peptic ulcer , pyloric stenosis and gastric infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
Some naturopathic advice in case of halitosis
If you have bad breath , adopt impeccable oral hygiene: brushing your teeth at least twice a day, using dental floss or interdental brushes at least once a day. Brush your tongue every day, or even twice a day, from back to front, with a soft brush dipped in chlorhexidine mouthwash. Promote salivation by sucking on sugar-free mint lozenges or chewing sugar-free chewing gum . Drink at least a liter and a half of water a day.
Other hygieno-dietetic measures can be useful in case of bad breath:
- If you wear removable braces, remove them after each meal and brush them with a toothbrush reserved for this purpose.
- Eat Regularly: Chewing and swallowing cleans the mouth, stimulates salivation, and prevents bad smells and ketosis .
- Eat a balanced diet, reducing foods that can cause bad breath.
- Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash can be useful, preferably alcohol-free as this dries up the mucous membranes. The use of mouthwashes should not be prolonged without the advice of your dentist. Good oral hygiene also helps keep your breath fresh.
- If you tend to have bad breath, beware of foods such as garlic or onion, as well as alcohol.
Many parapharmacy products are recommended for bad breath. It can be mouthwashes , toothpaste , lozenges to suck , mouth sprays . They often contain plant extracts that aim to neutralize smelly sulfur compounds or freshen breath.
What herbal remedies to use for bad breath?
The therapeutic solutions, multiple and most often curative, however depend on the incriminated cause.
Certain plants are known to neutralize the sulfur compounds responsible for bad breath: for example parsley, mint, basil, coriander or green anise. Chewing on the leaves or seeds of these plants can restore fresh breath. Indian restaurants also systematically offer a mixture of these seeds at the end of the meal.
The banana and the kiwi are also said to have the property of fighting against breath problems.
Homeopathic indications: severe tonsillitis, malignant infections, cyanotic mucous membranes, foul breath.
Celery essential oil is particularly recommended in cases of foul breath, small liver failure and flatulence.
Lemon is recommended for digestive, hepatic and pancreatic fatigue, as well as bad breath.
- Nadanovsky P, Carvalho LB, Ponce de Leon A. Oral malodour and its association with age and sex in a general population in Brazil. Oral diseases, 2007
- Donaldson AC, Riggio MP, Rolph HJ, Bagg J, Hodge PJ. Clinical examination of subjects with halitosis. Oral Dis, 2007
- Davarpanah M, Szmukler-Moncler S, Sater S, Caraman M. Halitosis, a scourge of public health, to diagnose and treat it. Dental floss, 2010
- Manolis A. The diagnostic potential of breath analysis. Clinical chemistry, 1983
- Bad breath, Health insurance, 2020
- Halitosis (bad breath), French Dental Association, 2004
- Guide to Self-Medication, Vidal, 2010