Bad breath: causes, treatment and home remedies

This article will take you 4 minutes to read

A fifth to a quarter of the world's population suffers from noticeable bad breath at times, and 6% of all people suffer from it all the time. Bad breath is not only unpleasant for those around you, it can be treacherous for those affected. The nose quickly gets used to smells and then no longer notices them. It is not uncommon for bad breath to also indicate diseases of the mouth. The causes can be diverse and more than 86% lie in the oral cavity. Problems in the ear, nose and throat area are the second most common culprit and affect around one in twelve patients. With increasing age, the number of people suffering from halitosis increases and men and women are equally affected.

What are the causes of bad breath?

In general, bad breath is divided into two main categories.

Transient Halitosis

The temporary bad breath is usually diet-related and occurs, for example, after eating certain foods such as garlic or onions. Smoking can also promote transient halitosis. Surprisingly, fasting or similar extreme diets can also have a detrimental effect on breathing. Here the natural "cleansing" caused by the increased saliva production when eating and the "wiping function" of the tongue is omitted. The causes of the so-called "morning breath" lie on the one hand in the lack of self-cleaning during sleep. Decreased salivation, reduced tongue movements or dry mouth contribute to this. Transient and morning bad breath disappear quickly and are by no means to be equated with real halitosis.

"Real" bad breath

The reasons for real halitosis are often found in the oral cavity (intraoral) - poor oral hygiene, fungal diseases, tumors and abscesses are also possible culprits. ENT diseases are among the most common causes outside the mouth (extraoral) - tonsillitis and inflammation of the paranasal sinuses or the throat. However, according to ENT doctors, bad breath is rarely an ENT problem.

Another, extraoral cause - diphtheria - is an infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is often accompanied by a foul-sweet smell.

Sometimes medicines cause bad breath, for example if they affect salivation or if they contain sulphur.

General diseases are another cause of bad breath - diabetes, bronchitis, pneumonia, inflammation of the esophagus, stomach or lungs, liver and kidney diseases. A disturbance in the intestinal flora can also be the cause here.

Decreased salivation can also promote true halitosis. The causes include systemic diseases, drugs (e.g. anti-Parkinson drugs) or the destruction of the salivary glands by radiation during cancer treatment.

Older dentures or braces often develop a specific smell. This can occur if they become “saturated” with odor-causing substances if they are not cleaned properly.

What can you do about bad breath?

Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss or dental brush, tongue scraper, mouthwash - the means for good oral hygiene are well known and have already been described in detail in our other articles. Of course, professional teeth cleaning is also part of this.

Which home remedies really help against bad breath?

Some home remedies such as coffee beans, parsley leaves or ginger offer quick and at least temporary help against temporarily bad breath. Natural yoghurt and mouthwashes with lemon or lime water are also popular allies in the fight against bad breath. However, these remedies are almost ineffective against "real" halitosis, which may be caused by an illness. Only a doctor can help here and initiate the appropriate treatment through the correct diagnosis.

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