We’re all aware that certain foods almost always give our breath unsavory odors and are careful to brush our teeth after consuming garlic bread or an onion bagel. There are times, however, when even mouthwash won’t banish that unpleasant odor. What, then, is actually going on?
Those close to you may still be able to detect garlic on your breath many hours after consumption because sulfur compounds in garlic enter the bloodstream, make their way to the lungs, and exit the body through respiration, as well as right through the pores in the form of sweat. Onions, with their high levels of sulfur compounds, and horseradish, with its concentration of isothiocyanate, have similar effects on the body. These foods are highly nutritious, but moderation in consuming them is key in controlling halitosis.
Dairy foods are also notorious for creating bad breath, but the cause is different when we consume fresh milk or a delicious cheese. The bacteria that thrive in our mouths feast on the amino acids in dairy products, and create a distinctive foul, sour odor on the breath. This type of food-created halitosis is easily combated by brushing and flossing and does not ride the bloodstream for hours on end.
Surprisingly, certain dieting practices can also create halitosis. Fasting, or refraining from eating for lengthy periods of time, has become increasingly popular in weight-loss regimens. Fasting can decrease levels of digestive enzymes necessary for efficient digestion. This can result in undigested food that lingers in the stomach, releasing unpleasant odors that do indeed make their way out of the body on the breath. The use of probiotics or the simple consumption of fermented foods can improve digestive efficiency and combat digestion related halitosis.
Your dentist can rule out the more common causes of halitosis such as gum disease or tooth decay, help you pinpoint the causes of chronic bad breath, and recommend the best oral hygiene products and practices that keep your breath sweet.