Healing & Preventing Halitosis
Chronic Halitosis refers to the condition of chronic bad breath. Bad breath can be embarrassing to those who have it and uncomfortable for those around them. Unfortunately, many people do not know that they even have bad breath until someone else tells them. If you’ve tried brushing, flossing, and mouthwash and still have bad breath soon afterward, the problem may lie deeper than your mouth. Chronic halitosis can be a sign of a health problem elsewhere in the body. While good oral hygiene is important, it is important to find and address the root cause of the issue in order to resolve it at its source.
Causes of Bad Breath include
Bacteria and microbes in the mouth
Inflammation of the gums
Gingivitis, tartar buildup, cavities
Dysbiosis in the gut
Medications which cause dry mouth
Liver or kidney problems
Diabetes (may cause a sweet-smelling odour)
If you have addressed any dental issues and still experience chronic bad breath, it may be time to address any digestive troubles, candida yeast overgrowth, and detoxification problems.
Oral Hygiene for Preventing Halitosis
- Brushing – At least twice daily (see oral health post for homemade toothpaste and mouthwash recipes).
- Flossing – At least once daily before bed, and more often (after meals) if you notice you have food sticking between your teeth.
- Oil pulling – Swish 1 tbsp of coconut oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes daily. Make sure you spit out the oil afterwards in the garbage (never down the sink) - do not swallow it.
- Visit a holistic dentist if you believe you may have cavities, gingivitis, or tooth decay.
Improving your Digestion
Digestive health is intricately tied to the health of our entire body. Poor digestion, acid reflux, and sluggish elimination can all be factors leading to bad breath. When the body does not process and digest foods properly, bacteria is able to thrive in the GI tract. Their gaseous byproducts can be a major cause of bad breath. Incomplete digestion can be another cause, whereby partially digested foods begin to ferment in the digestive tract, releasing gases that can cause bad breath. Finally, when our body fails to eliminate wastes in a timely manner, as in constipation, toxins are able to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream, burdening the liver which is our main detoxification organ.
By addressing digestive issues, we can help to relieve chronic halitosis in many cases.
Fiber - Is essential for proper digestion and eliminating toxins from the body. When food stays in the colon for too long, it can ferment and cause toxic build up in the body. Try: Add more fibrous vegetables into your diet such as celery, kale, carrots and broccoli. You may also wish to add psyllium husks, chia seeds, or ground flax seeds to your diet for additional fibre intake. Start with 1 tbsp mixed with water once daily, and ensure adequate water intake.
Clean diet - Consuming a diet high in vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, as well as lean protein sources, will help with digestion and elimination of bad breath. Try: Foods such as apples, carrots, parsley, basil, spinach, salmon, eggs, ginger, peppermint tea, and green tea. Avoid: Foods that worsen breath such as garlic and onions, sugar or processed foods, fast foods, trans fats, and excessive salt intake.
Water - Adequate water intake is an essential component of any health regime. Water helps to flush the body of toxins, aids in all fundamental bodily metabolic processes, and keeps breath fresh. Try: Drinking at 2.5 - 3L of water daily.
Healing your Gut
An unhealthy microbiome impacts the health of your entire body. Healing the gut can often resolve chronic halitosis. When there is too much bad bacteria within the gut, your body is in a state of dysbiosis. Dysbiosis and candida often go hand in hand as candida is an overgrowth of unfriendly yeast bacteria.Try: Probiotic supplements, fermented foods such as kimchi and kefir, reducing or eliminating your intake of sugar, and reducing stress which also impacts proper digestion.
You may also wish to consider a candida cleanse. A candida cleanse is a more intense protocol to remove candida yeast overgrowth in the body. There are many signs and symptoms of candida overgrowth which include: digestive problems, fatigue, skin issues, poor memory, lack of focus, irritability, and sugar cravings to name a few.
Try: The cleanse may involve some form of antifungal supplement or herbs such oregano oil which can help to kill the candida, as well as a probiotic supplement to help reinocculate the gut with good bacteria. Candida feeds on sugar, therefore from a dietary perspective you will need to eliminate all sources of sugar from the diet (both processed and natural sugars from fruit) for 30 days or more.
Detoxifying your Body
A build-up of toxins in the body, or a toxic overload, can lead to problems with chronic bad breath. Removing toxins from the body and improving liver function helps to improve the elimination pathways of the body. Try: A juice cleanse, a colon cleanse using a fiber supplement such as psyllium husks, or colon hydrotherapy performed by a professional. You should also drink plenty of water and try some of the supportive herbs listed in the next section - such as dandelion root which is excellent at helping to naturally detoxify the liver.
Foods to support detoxification and liver function: Apples, leafy green vegetables, lemons, grapefruit, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turmeric, ginger, and garlic.
Sweat it out: Exercise that induces sweating, saunas (especially infrared saunas), and hot yoga are all excellent options to get the body sweating out toxins. Getting a good sweat at least a few times a week will help assist the body in detoxifying.
Dandelion Root – Bitter herb good for digestion, helps to detoxify the liver, and has natural diuretic properties. Drink dandelion root tea as desired.
Ginger– Provides anti-inflammatory action for the mouth and digestive system. Drink ginger tea daily - especially in the cooler months.
Turmeric – A potent anti-inflammatory root often used as a spice for cooking. Add turmeric to meals daily.
Peppermint – Soothing to the digestive system, and is often used for refreshing the mouth with its pleasant scent. Add peppermint oil to your natural toothpaste or making a homemade mouthwash with water, peppermint oil, and baking soda.
Probiotics: Adding probiotics into your daily regimen will help to build up beneficial bacteria in the gut, aiding in digestion and elimination.
Try: A probiotic supplement daily consisting of 15-50 billion CFU. Foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, and coconut yogurt contain natural probiotics add them into your daily routine.
Fiber: Adequate fiber intake will assist the body in removing toxins through regular, healthy bowel movements.
Try: 1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, or psyllium husks daily before bed along with plenty of water
Digestive Enzymes: Assist the body in fully breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.Digestive enzymes - These are enzyme helpers that assist in the breakdown of different macronutrient components. Our bodies naturally produce enzymes and they are also present in the foods we eat. However, if you are having a lot of digestive troubles, your ability to produce your own enzymes may be diminished, so adding digestive enzymes can assist your body in the breakdown of certain foods.
Try: Taking a digestive enzyme supplement with each meal to aid digestion. Note: do not take these daily for more than 6 weeks at a time to prevent dependency.
Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV is also beneficial for balancing the bacteria in the gut, is naturally alkalizing in the body, and can promote detoxification by increasing circulation. Has antibacterial properties, helps to kill bacteria that cause bad breath, supports digestive function, boosts stomach acid production, and is highly nutritive.
Try: Taking 1 tbsp with water 10-15 min. before meals for digestive support.
- Enjoy detoxifying fruits and vegetables such as berries, broccoli, and dark leafy greens
- Foods good for oral health include apples, carrots, and parsley
- Eat a generally clean diet, avoiding processed or sugar-laden foods as sugar feeds bad bacteria which can cause bad breath
- Eliminate potential food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy, and soy. Try an elimination diet to identify food sensitivities.
There is also a mental and emotional component to halitosis. Bad breath can leave people embarrassed and afraid to get close to others, fostering a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, and even a lack of desire to socialize over time. Remember that this is a temporary situation and can be resolved! Listen to your body and be patient as you make changes to improve your health and wellness.