Bad breath is a common health problem in society. The offensive smell from the mouth may be due to various reasons. The main reason is the presence of anaerobic bacteria in the biofilm formed on the tongue. These bacteria degrade the proteins present in the food resulting in the production of some offensive gases like hydrogen sulphide, skatol etc.
Bad odour from the mouth in the early morning is seen in almost all individuals. This can be controlled by maintaining oral hygiene. Even after cleaning the mouth, some individuals may suffer from bad breath due to some problem in the mouth or in the nearby areas. Some general disease conditions can also produce bad breath. The exact cause has to be identified and should be treated accordingly. Some common measures to cure or reduce bad breath are discussed here.
1) Oral hygiene:
The mouth should be kept clean every time to reduce the bacterial action. After food gargling with lukewarm water is very essential. Even after small food articles like snacks, sweets, biscuits cleaning with water is needed. Brushing should be done twice daily. It is said that early morning brushing is for beauty and bedtime brushing is for good health.
2) Brushing techniques:
Normal brushing techniques should be followed for better results. Many people brush vigorously causing damage to the gums. Brushing after every food and drink can damage the enamel. The bristles of the toothbrush should be smooth but hard enough to remove the food particles from the gaps. The direction of brushing is the most important thing. The upper teeth should be brushed in a downward direction and the lower in an upward direction. This is applicable to both inner and outer surfaces. Next comes the crown of the teeth; here brushing is done in anterior and posterior directions keeping the brush in the same direction. This applies to both the upper and lower sets of teeth.
3) Tongue cleaning:
The white or yellowish coating on the tongue can cause bad breath. This is more well marked in the morning and should be removed twice daily with the help of a tongue cleaner. Tongue cleaner must be used gently without damaging the taste buds on the tongue.
The toothpick is a small strip of wood or plastic with a pointed end. This is used to remove food particles lodged between the gaps. Very useful after eating meat and fish. Should be used gently to avoid damage to gums.
After every meal gargling with lukewarm water is useful. For better results, little common salt is dissolved in the lukewarm water. Different types of mouth wash are available in the market in different trade names. Gargling with mouth wash can also reduce bad breath.
6) Food habits:
Protein containing food articles is known to produce bad breath. For example; meat, milk, fish, egg etc. If these food articles are taken proper cleaning is essential. Some food articles are known to produce a particular smell that may be unpleasant for others. Raw onion is the best example. It is said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away and a raw onion a day keeps everybody away. Small food articles taken in between can also cause a bad smell(nuts, fried items etc). Maintaining regularity in food timing is the most important thing.
7) Water intake:
Dryness in the mouth can make a favourable condition for bacterial activity resulting in a bad odour. saliva is needed to keep the mouth moist and to reduce bacterial proliferation. The production of saliva is closely related to the water balance of the body and hence sufficient quantity of water should be taken to maintain the production of saliva.
8) Mouth fresheners:
Natural and artificial mouth fresheners can reduce the intensity of bad breath to some extent. Spicy articles are commonly used for this purpose. Chewing spices like clove, cumin seed, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger etc are useful. All citrus fruits can reduce bad odour. Mouth fresheners and chewing gums are available in the market. these products are also helpful, but some may cause damage hence should be used with caution.
If the above things don’t work then what to do?
Consider the following:-
1) Remove the cause:
Bad breath is common in some general and systemic diseases like diabetes, fevers, gastric disorders, liver diseases and etc. By removing or reducing the primary cause the bad breath will go automatically.
2) Modern medicine:
If bad breath is due to any infection suitable antibiotics,anti-fungal or antiviral medicines will help. If it is due to any autoimmune or chronic inflammatory conditions steroids may also be used. Saliva producing tablets can also be used.
3) Dental cleaning:
Dental cleaning done by a dentist can remove the dental plaques and tartar. This can reduce the severity of bad breath. Visit your dentist at least once a year.
4) Filling of caries:
Since caries is one of the main causes of bad breath it should be filled by a dentist. Earlier silver amalgam was used, nowadays it is replaced by synthetic materials. If the pulp cavity is affected by the caries root canal treatment can be done.
5) Tooth extraction:
If caries is deep with the destruction of teeth with bad smell extraction is the better choice and a dental implant can be kept in the gap.
Patients with recurrent tonsillitis can have bad breath due to offensive discharges and the release of pasty materials from the crypts of tonsils. Such patients get great relief after tonsillectomy(removal of tonsils).
7) Psychological counselling:
Those who suffer from bad breath may be very much depressed and be away from the public. This isolation hampers their day to day activities. Such people should understand the fact that all human beings are having bad breath, but with slight differences in intensities. Mostly all people control it by taking personal care. Every human body has got its own smell, which may or may not be tolerable for others. They should be advised to do all hygienic measures to reduce the intensity of smell. Improving the quality of life by all possible means can also help. Moral support from friends and family members is needed for such people.
Some individuals visit the doctor for bad breath without any real problem. It is included under somatisation disorder. They usually complain about pain, breathlessness, abdominal discomfort, bad smell etc. proper diagnosis is needed to rule out any real causes. These patients should be managed with a psychological approach.
In Homoeopathy medicines are selected on the basis of physical, mental, emotional, and social aspects of the diseased person. Considering the whole aspects a constitutional homoeopathic medicine is selected and given in suitable potency and dose. By this, all health-related problems including bad breath will be solved. On the basis of coating on the tongue, type of smell, cause for bad breath, and other associated complaints a medicine can be given to get relief from bad breath. In the homoeopathic medical repertory by Dr Robin Murphy, there are 140 homoeopathic drugs mentioned for bad breath. On the basis of the signs and symptoms of the individual, a suitable medicine is given. Commonly used drugs are arnica, antim crud, pulsatilla, sulphur, sodium, nux vomica, ars alb, merc sol, creosote, Hekla lava, Silicea, asafoetida, graphites, kali bich, acid nitric etc.
Homoeopathic mother tinctures like cinnamon Q, creosote Q, zingiber Q, Rhus glabra Q, menthol Q and etc can be used for gargling after diluting in water.