Halitosis seems to be a serious issue nowadays, since 90 million Americans suffer from it. Surveys reveal that “it can wilt your love life, and even cost you that new job.”
The main focus of this article is halitosis or bead breath -its cause, its impact on our lives, how to fight it and how to tell a friend that he or she has it.
Most people with stinky breath do not even realize that they have it because “the brain becomes acclimated to one’s own personal scent.”
According to Dr. Harold Katz, bacteriologist and founder of the California Breath Clinic, the way to check if you have bad breath is not to smell your own breath in cupped hand; rather, it is to “lick the back of your hand, let it dry for a few seconds, and then smell the surface.”
Bad breath has nothing to do with the state of your dental hygiene because “you can have good teeth, rotten teeth or no teeth at all and still have bad breath. It has to do with the tongue,” Dr. Katz says.
The way to determine the smell of your breath -if it is fresh or foul -is to conduct a tongue test by looking at the color of your tongue. A tongue that indicates fresh breath should look pink and shiny, whereas one that appears white and scaly does indicate bad breath, according to Dr. Katz.
It is said that more than 600 types of bacteria can be located in the average mouth, many of which house under the surface of the tongue and cause the unpleasant smell in the mouth.
Now that we know the etiology of halitosis, let us see together how to fight it.
To fight halitosis, it is recommended that you keep your mouth hydrated, for a dry mouth is the perfect environment for the breeding and growth of offensive-smelling bacteria on your tongue.”Saliva has oxygen in it, which makes it a natural enemy for the foul-smelling bacteria,” Katz says. “They can’t live in the presence of oxygen, so drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum can produce saliva and naturally get rid of bad breath.”
Now, keep in mind that sugar-free mint or mouthwash can only provide temporary relief by masking the foul smell but does not really eradicate the offensive-smelling bacteria causing the bad breath.
Be watchful and mindful of the foods and acid beverages you consume as some -such as garlic, onions, curry, fish, beer, wine, coffee and soda -can be a trigger. They all contain foul-odor-releasing compounds that get absorbed into your bloodstream; the odor is given off in your breath until all of the food is out of your body.
It is also recommended that you limit as well your consumption of chocolate candy and sweets as the sugar they contain does help bacteria to reproduce in your mouth, leading to bad breath.
On the flip side of the issue, if there is an array of foods you are asked to stay away from for their strong odor, there are some you are recommended and encouraged to consume because they do fix bad breath.
For example, “Green tea has anti-bacterial properties that knock out the stink. Cinnamon contains essential oils that kill many types of oral bacteria. Try adding fresh cinnamon to your morning toast or oatmeal, or adding a stick to flavor your tea.”
According to Dr. Katz, foods that are high in vitamin C -such as berries, melons, oranges, etc… –are recommended to fight bad breath because they help kill smelly bacteria naturally.
He also recommends that people eat crisp fruits and vegetables, such as celery or apples, because they offer dual bad-breath-busting benefits: a. chewing them will produce more saliva in the mouth; 2. their firm texture will also help scrub away bacteria.
If you do all the aforementioned things in an attempt to modify your lifestyle and eating habits and yet your bad breath has not rescinded, it is advised that you contact your health care provider to make sure that it does not have to do with a more serious medical condition.
It has been scientifically surveyed that about 10% of bad breath cases have to do with a symptom of chronic sinus or respiratory infection, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), liver and kidney disorder, cancer or diabetes. These diseases can release into the body chemicals that cause bad breath.
Your friend has been slapping you left and right every chance he or she gets with his or her bad breath, yet you are not bold enough to tell him or her. How should you tell him or her that his or her bad breath is invading your comfort zone?
Well, as mentioned earlier, keep in mind that most people cannot smell their own breath. So if you detect a friend’s bad breath, do not be afraid to speak up on that and let him or her know about it.
Granted, telling a person -a close colleague, friend or lover –that his or her breath is offensive and makes you feel uncomfortable can be awkward for everybody involved to do. But it is still the right thing to do. After all, if you were the one with stinky breath, you would want to know so you could do something about it, would you not?
Now, let us see what the experts have to say on the issue of breaking the bad breath news. Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder of The Etiquette School of New York, though she acknowledges the delicacy and sensitiveness of the issue, believes that speaking up is good manners. She said: “If people are talking about them behind their back, it turns into a worse situation. If you respect the person, it’s your duty to tell them.”
How does she recommend that you proceed to break the bad breath news to the person? She believes that there are two possible approaches:
1. Just sit down with your friend in a private setting and be direct. Start off the conversation by telling them you believe there is an issue they would want to know about and that you are not too sure they are aware of it.
2. In the event that you know the person is sensitive, you may need to be a little bit more cautious about your approach. Delicately and kindly, bring up the issue by carrying mints with you. Take one yourself first and then offer one to your friend who has bad breath. If the person does not accept it, Fitzpatrick says it is acceptable to offer a nudge by simply saying, “I think you should.”
As the saying goes, first impressions, professionally and personally, last a lifetime. So it makes no type of sense whatsoever to let bad breath wilt your image. Taking incremental steps to control the chemical reactions happening inside your mouth will keep you smelling fresh, agreeable and tolerable.