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Bad breath

Digestion, Dental | May 23, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

bacteria, Digestion

Bad breath

Halitosis or malodour are the names given for offensive odour coming from the oral cavity (mouth) commonly known as 'bad Breath'. People suffering from this condition will often feel embarrassed, if they are aware of the condition.

What causes bad breath

Most often the cause is from fermentation of food by anaerobic gram negative bacteria in the mouth which produce volatile sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan. Bacteria may be present around any periodontal disease. These bacteria live deep within periodontal pockets of necrosis (dying tissue) and are often found on the back of tongue.

Contributing factors to bacteria growth

Decreased saliva in the mouth; this may be due to parotid disease, Sjogren syndrome, certain medication such as anticholinergics, salivary stagnation, and increased salivary pH.

The most common causes of bad breath

  • Gingivitis or periodontal disease
  • Smoking
  • Foods eaten that have a volatile component (garlic for example)

Breath odours that may indicate disease

Some systemic diseases will produce volatile substances detected on the breath although this odour is not the pungent odour typically considered halitosis.

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) produces a sweet or fruity odour of acetone
  • liver failure produces a faintly sulphurous odour
  • Renal failure produces an odour of urine or ammonia.

Gastrointestinal disorders will rarely cause halitosis because the oesophagus is normally collapsed. The state of digestion and bowel function is not necessarily indicated through the breath.

Other possible causes include:

  • Nasal discharge and pain felt on the face or head (sinusitis, nasal foreign body)
  • A cough that produces mucous and fevers (upper respiratory infection)
  • Reflux of undigested food when lying down or bending over (Zenker diverticulum)
  • Disease that can cause factors such as dry mouth, dry eyes, or both (Sjögren syndrome or cancers of the pharynx)

bad breath teeth cleaningWhat can help?

A trip to the dental is important for a thorough teeth clean and to help rule out any mouth or tooth issues.

  • Discuss with your dentist the correct way to brush and floss.
  • Don't forget to replace your toothbrush regularly.
  • Elderly people and young children may need support with their own dental hygiene attempts.


Co Q 10. A sublingual Co Q 10 dissolved in the mouth can provides support for the integrity of gum tissue and relieve pain. Ubiquinol (reduced form of coenzyme Q10) works as an endogenous antioxidant which increases the concentration of CoQ10 in the gum and is able to suppress inflammation.

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Studies have found the application of both co q 10 and Tea tree oil gel to be effective in the treatment of chronic periodontitis.  Rinse mouth with a Tea tree mouth wash or apply Tea tree gel to gums.

Manuka honey. Research has shown that manuka honey has high antimicrobial properties that can be used with success in the treatment of wound healing, peptic ulcers and bacterial gastro-enteritis. A study using manuka honey for periodontal disease had a positive outcome on its use for gingivitis.

Food odour

Certain spices and foods may release their odour through the lung 2-3 hours after digestion.

If garlic is your love!  it is the sulphuric compounds that gives garlic its health benefits and taste but unfortunately it also gives people unpleasant odour, also known as 'garlic breath'.  A compound is produced in the lung as garlic is metabolized which causes the breath that comes from the lungs to smell like garlic. This same metabolite can be excreted through the pores of the skin giving the same pungent smell from the body. Because the odour is coming from the lung there is no sure fire way of eliminating it completely other than not eating garlic.

Hints avoiding garlic breath

Have a cuppa! peppermint and green tea contain polyphenols that reduce the volatile sulfur compounds that the garlic produces. Drinking your tea while eating garlic or enjoy afterwards may help to eliminate the odour.

Try brushing and flossing. Grab your toothbrush and floss for a teeth clean directly after eating to help remove any particles in the mouth.

bad breath parsleyAdd some herbs. Herbs may help to neutralise the odour. Include parsley, cardamom, mint, fennel, cloves and anise seeds in your meal or eat them directly afterwards.

As sour as it seems - sucking on a slice of lemon can be another effective garlic odour neutraliser. Suck on a wedge of lemon after eating garlic but be sure to rinse your mouth of its acid afterwards.

Choose odorless garlic if supplementing.

Could it be an infection?

The sinuses are located in areas that are fairly inaccessible; bacteria can sometimes take up residence and be very hard to shift. This infection in the nasal and upper respiratory tract could be causing bad breath.

Try inhalations of tea tree or eucalyptus oil (boiling water in a bowel with a few drops of essential oil of tea tree - breath in the vapours through the nose). Alternatively, or as well, go for a nasal spray containing tea tree or eucalyptus, or use a sinus rinse. 

Herbs that can help fight infection include:

Echinacea (angustifolia or purpurea) is always a ‘go-to’ herb for any infection in the body. Echinacea has been found to be an effective antiviral agent but also valuable in reducing the duration and reoccurrence of respiratory infections.

Golden seal (Hydrastis Canadensis) - this herb has antimicrobial, anticatarrahal and mucous membrane restorative properties.

Elderberry (sambucus nigra) - this is a very useful herb due to its anti microbial and antiviral activities. It can help to clear nasal congestion and have you breathing in no time.

Other herbs that can be used for sinus or upper respiratory infection include Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) to support immunity, horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) and eyebright (euphrasia officinalis) to clear any congestion. The use of garlic can help with upper respiratory infection - it maybe necessary to to put up with 'garlic breath" till the infection clears.

Bad breath odour can be both embarrassing to the individual and even more the informant. Because it may be connected to dental problems or health diseases it is important to check out any health concerns that may be contributing to its cause.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Role of coenzyme Q10 as an antioxidant and bioenergizer in periodontal diseases

Comparative evaluation of co-enzyme Q10 and Melaleuca alternifolia as antioxidant gels in treatment of chronic periodontitis: A clinical study.

The antimicrobial activity of alpha-bisabolol and tea tree oil against Solobacterium moorei, a Gram-positive bacterium associated with halitosis.

The effects of manuka honey on plaque and gingivitis: a pilot study.

Fisher, C; (2009), Materia Medica of Western Herbs, New Zealand

Mills S, Bone K, (2009), Principles and Practice of Phototherapy, Elsevier, Aust

Echinacea purpurea: A Proprietary Extract of Echinacea purpurea Is Shown to be Safe and Effective in the Prevention of the Common Cold.

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