Around 25% of us experience halitosis, or bad breath, but the cause could be a lot deeper than simply overdoing the garlic.
We’ve all worried about having bad breath after a spicy meal, and ‘morning breath’ is only something to inflict on someone who loves you very much. Luckily, these causes of halitosis are easily solved. But for the quarter of Brits who regularly experience bad breath, there could be an underlying cause that’s tougher to treat.
What causes bad breath?
The most common cause of bad breath is bad dental hygiene. Bacteria builds up on your teeth, known as plaque. When they break down food, this produces gases that can have an unpleasant smell. Any bits of food trapped between your teeth can also break down and make your breath smell.
Eating ‘smelly’ foods, such as garlic and onions, will also give you bad breath, as can some drinks such as coffee, alcohol – which can dry your mouth out, contributing to bad breath – and smoking. Cleaning your teeth, flossing regularly, and eating a healthy diet can all help beat these causes of halitosis.
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Poor digestion and bad breath
A study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology in 2010 found that 57% of those with halitosis also experienced gastrointestinal conditions, namely H.pylori bacteria, which can cause ulcers, and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
Also known as acid reflux, GORD is a condition where acid from the stomach ‘leaks’ back up into the oesophagus. This can cause heartburn, a burning sensation in the throat, and a bad taste in your mouth. You might also experience bloating, smelly and/or loud burps and a croaky voice in the mornings.
How to improve poor digestion
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, see your GP to rule out anything more serious. They may recommend certain medications to help treat H.pylori or GORD, including those that reduce your stomach acid.
Your bad breath could be caused by an imbalance of bacteria in your gut, rather than in your mouth. A study by the University of Bristol in 2012 concluded that ‘friendly’ bacteria could help treat bad breath caused by ‘micro-organisms’, so try taking a supplement to help replace the ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut with ‘friendly’ bacteria.
You can also make some lifestyle changes to beat gut-related bad breath, such as eating smaller meals, losing weight – American researchers found even a small amount of weight gain was linked to an increase in acid reflux – and avoiding foods that irritate your stomach, like coffee or curries.
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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.