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March 20, 2018  |  Login
Bad Breath
by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

If you've ever eaten garlic or onions-or stood next to someone who has-you know that certain foods reliably produce a sour or strong odor on the breath. These foods, usually ones that are pungent or spicy, contain foul-smelling sulfur compounds that are released not just into the mouth but into the bloodstream and the lungs as well. Even if you brush and gargle, you'll continue to exhale the sulfur with every breath until the food is fully metabolized, a process that can take up to twenty-four hours. This kind of food-induced bad breath can sometimes be socially troubling (especially if your companions have not eaten the same sulfur-producing food that you have), but it is in no way a health threat. If you enjoy eating spicy, strong food, complementary medicine offers some effective ways to mask the temporarily offensive result.

Persistent bad breath, on the other hand, is medically known as halitosis and is a symptom of an underlying problem. Many cases are warning signs of insufficient oral hygiene. If you do not clean your teeth after eating, bacteria will feed on the food particles left in your mouth and emit sulfur as a digestive by-product. Eventually, these bacteria will cause tooth decay and gum disease, disorders that, in turn, lead to even worse-smelling breath.

If regular brushing and flossing don't improve chronic bad breath, it's quite possible that you are suffering from a toxic body system. An improper diet and a poorly functioning digestive system can lead to the accumulation of toxins, which is reflected in bad breath. If you are constipated (as are many people who follow poor diets) and cannot eliminate the poisons via your bowels, the body may try to expel some of them every time you breathe out. A cleansing program, followed by dietary changes, should help get rid of the toxins and, with them, the cause of bad breath.

Also, undetected infections of the throat such as tonsillitis, as well as sinusitis can be the underlying cause of foul breath. These conditions may be the result of food or environmental allergens causing mucus formation and postnasal drip. Along these lines are chronic root canal infections, as well as teeth and mercury fillings that are decaying. The repeated use of antibiotics can wipe out the good flora in your mouth, which leads to the overgrowth of bad bacteria that cause bad breath.

Smoking is another obvious method of poisoning your body, and the best way to clear up the breath it causes is to give up the habit.

In rare cases, halitosis is a symptom of a serious disease. If the suggestions listed here don't improve your breath, consult a holistic dentist first and then a doctor, if ­ necessary. It is possible that you have a dental disorder or even a disease of the kidneys or the liver. Take chronic bad breath seriously, but do exercise some common sense. Our society places an unnaturally high priority on eliminating body odors, and many dentists have noted that otherwise healthy patients can become convinced their breath is offensive, when in fact it is perfectly normal. If your close friends and health professionals assure you that your breath is fine, it's probably wisest to trust them

Next: What are the Symptoms of Bad Breath

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