Bad breath, or halitosis, is often viewed as a social problem that can be solved using mouth sprays or chewing gum. However, it can also have serious health consequences.
Let’s take a look at the latest research on bad breath.
Halitosis is a condition that affects up to 30% of the global population.
The oral microbiome is a unique community of bacteria that lives in the mouth. It is different from the bacteria found in the gut. This community includes hundreds of microbial species that live in pockets on the gums, tongues, cheeks, and individual teeth. They all work together to improve our gum and teeth health.
Each part of the oral microbiome is different. These bacteria are mostly anaerobic and cannot survive in high-oxygen environments. They are also proteolytic, meaning they degrade proteins in food to make it possible for them to survive. They produce volatile sulfur compounds, which can lead to bad breath.
Most people notice bad breath when they wake up in the morning. It is normal. This happens as part of the normal growth cycle that mouth bacteria go through at night.
Sleeping causes a combination of reduced oxygen levels and protein residues from food to create an environment conducive to the growth of anaerobic bacteria. The increased levels of hydrogen sulfide cause morning breath to be produced overnight. Brushing our teeth removes bacteria from the teeth and exposes them to oxygen at higher levels, which reduces their number. The cycle repeats.
Chronic bad breath sufferers, on the other side, have so many anaerobic bacteria that their bad breath persists.
Bad bacteria form a protective biofilm around the gumline and teeth, a sticky, non-colorless plaque. This can cause gum inflammation (gingivitis) or periodontitis, the most common cause of tooth loss in Australia.
Small intestinal bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
Healthy small intestines are usually colonized at low density by a few acid-tolerant bacteria, such as streptococci or lactobacilli. This is especially true for the jejunum and duodenum portions. In recent years, this list has expanded to include enterococci, coliforms, and small amounts of Bacteroides, but not archaea (Marchesi 2014, p.5). The small intestine is hostile and doesn’t allow for a large number of microbes. There is an overgrowth (SIBO) in some people with impaired gut motility, constipation, sluggish stool, impaired hydrochloric acid production, poor liver function, and ileocaecal valve defects. Bad breath can also be caused by methane-producing bacteria growing in the small intestine. Your naturopath can do a simple breath test to determine if you have SIBO.
Strategies for treatment
Bad breath treatment is usually done with special gums or mouthwashes. Although this can help with the symptoms, it does not address the root cause of the bad smell.
These natural remedies for bad breath will help to balance your mouth microbiome.
To remove more bacteria, brush your teeth twice daily. The tongue is where the majority of bad-breath-causing bacteria is found. To remove food debris, you can also floss your teeth daily. A good quality herbal toothpaste containing natural antimicrobials like essential oils of neem and myrrh, peppermint, thyme, thyme, and tea tree.
The biofilm must be addressed.
Bad breath, periodontitis (gum disease), and other oral/dental problems, such as bad breath, are caused by bad bacteria. Good bacteria can also create biofilms. No amount of antimicrobial toothpaste or mouthwashes will give long-term results if you don’t address the biofilm. Polysaccharides form bacterial biofilms, so using polysaccharide-degrading enzymes such as cellulase, amylase, and hemicellulase is essential. Take the enzymes on an empty stomach, and then apply antimicrobial toothpaste or mouthwash 30 minutes later.
Sesame oil pulling is very effective at reducing bad breath.
Oil pulling is as easy as putting a tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil into your mouth. After that, brush your teeth every morning and then spit it out. You will see results in two weeks.
Bad breath can be a sign that your microbiome is not working properly. Bad breath can be reduced by using Lactobacillus and Streptococcus bacteria. They alter the pH of the mouth, making hydrogen peroxide. Probiotics can also harm bad bacteria, which create biofilms.
As this is a low-oxygen environment, bad bacteria will try to colonize the dark spaces between the gum line (and the teeth) with their harmful bacteria. This causes ongoing inflammation and triggers an immune response. The oxidation/reduction pot of probiotics has been shown to decrease oral inflammation. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to survive. Probiotics also trigger our non-specific immunity to attack and eliminate bad bacteria.
A probiotic product should contain a mix of lactobacilli as well as bifidobacteria. After you have done the oil pulling and tongue scraping, empty the capsules or sachets into a glass of water. After you have used the probiotic water as a mouthwash, swallow it.
Increase production of hydrochloric acid
It is well known that hydrochloric acid production in the stomach decreases with age. This can lead to undigested protein reaching the colon and triggering inflammatory fermentation by bacteria. Excessive amounts of undigested proteins can also cause bad breath.
I love to add zinc citrate to my diet. It is usually between 20-30mg per day. Also, betaine hydrochloride is usually taken with every meal. To further lower the pH of the stomach, it is important to add acid to foods in the form of vinegar or lemon-based vinaigrettes or fermented veggies (1 tbsp per dinner is a good starting point).
Drinking an aperitif of 1 tsp applied vinegar in 100ml water before every meal is a good way to boost protein digestion, even if supplements are unnecessary.
To rebalance your microbiome, eat a high-fiber diet and a low-sugar diet.
A high-protein, high-fat diet (with rancid, industrial, or trans fats from hydrolyzed vegetable oils) rich in simple starches is a quick way to disrupt your gut microbiome. Anaerobes, like Streptococcus, love sugar.
Switch to whole foods and avoid processed food. Eat more vegetables like onions, garlic, ginger, carrots and apples daily. You can also add a rainbow of seasoned foods to your diet.