The foul oral odor is usually caused by a group of anaerobic, sulfur-producing bacteria that breed beneath the surface of the tongue and often in the throat and tonsil area, according to Bad Breath expert, Dr. Harold Katz.
The term “anaerobic” literally means living without oxygen, and in fact, these bacteria do not require oxygen to live. They occur naturally in the oral environment and are essential because they assist in digestion by breaking down proteins into amino acids. Proteins are commonly found in food, mucus or phlegm, blood, and in diseased oral tissue.
As these bacteria feast on proteins in your mouth, sulfur compounds are released from the back of your tongue and throat. The bacteria excrete waste as hydrogen sulfide, and other odorous and bad tasting compounds known as volatile sulfur compounds.
As long as the anaerobic bacteria feed on proteins and excrete volatile sulfur compounds unchecked, your breath will become worse and worse.
Please remember, preventing bad breath [halitosis] is always easier than treating it. By developing the right habits, you can effectively help prevent it.
- Eat foods rich in fiber: High fiber foods help prevent halitosis. Avoid eating heavily processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates such as cookies, cakes, sweets and ice cream.
- Use mouthwash: Some mouthwashes or oral rinses are effective at preventing bad breath. However, you should never use alcohol based mouthwashes because the alcohol makes the mouth very dry, which will actually make the problem worse.
- Drink green and black teas: They contain polyphenols that help eliminate sulfur compounds and reduce oral bacteria.
- Avoid drying medication: Try not to take antidepressants, diuretics, pain relievers, and antihistamines unless it is absolutely medically necessary. These drugs inhibit saliva flow and can cause chronic dry mouth.
- Avoid products with sodium lauryl sulfate or alcohol: Do not use any oral hygiene products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate or alcohol because the alcohol makes the mouth very dry, one of the most common causes of bad breath.
- Clean your mouth after eating meat, fish or dairy products: Practicing consistent and thorough oral hygiene is an effective prevention tool.
- Stop smoking: Studies have shown that smokers are at higher risk of developing periodontal disease and dry mouth. Furthermore, people who smoke may also engage in other habits that promote this condition such as dieting, drinking alcohol, and suffering from chronic anxiety conditions that require exacerbating prescription medications.
- Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth: Try to address any snoring or sleep apnea issues that could be affecting your breath and causing dry mouth.
- Drink water: Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water.
- Clean your dentures at least once a day: Practice the same, proper oral care that you would with your original teeth.
- Eliminate dairy products from your diet: Lactose intolerance can be an underlying cause of halitosis [bad breath].