April 30, 2014— -- intro: Oral malodor. Sounds like some hellish realm in a Tolkien novel, and that’s not too far from the truth. It’s what doctors call bad breath, and it affects everyone at one time or another (anyone who says they don’t get morning breath is lying). And for one in four people, it's a chronic health (and social) issue.
The American Dental Association says that bad breath, also known as halitosis, is caused bacteria in the mouth, on the gum line and on the tongue. Bad breath is worsened by a number of things: Food particles in your mouth (onions and garlic are prime offenders); gum disease or plaque buildup, dry mouth due to mouth breathing or dehydration, which decreases the amount of saliva in your mouth, slowing down your mouth’s natural cleaning system; and medical conditions like diabetes, sinus or lung infections, bronchitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
In order to sweeten your breath you should start by brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily and cleaning your tongue. You can reduce the amount of bad-breath-causing gook on your tongue by 74 to 94 percent by simply cleaning your tongue regularly, according to a study in the journal Nursing Research.
On top of good dental hygiene, here are four ways you can Eat It to Beat Bad Breath!
quicklist: 1category: How to Beat Bad Breath title: Eat Yogurturl:text: Battle bad breath bugs with good breath bugs.
A study in The Journal of Clinical Microbiology reported that the bacteria species that dominate the tongues of those with healthy mouths are different than the species that inhabit the tongues of those with bad breath. One of the prime bacteria offenders is strain of streptococcus, but recent research has shown that consumption of probiotics reduces streptococci counts significantly.
While eating yogurt is a good way to get probiotics in your diet, you might consider a simple supplement to boost your probiotic counts. Both Flora Udo’s Choice and Garden of Life offer a good basic probiotic supplement.
quicklist: 2category: How to Beat Bad Breath title: Chew Xylitol Gumurl:text: A new study in the journal Clinical Oral Investigations found that chewing xylitol gum actually decreases the amount of those same stinky streptococci bacteria.
Other research has found that chewing xylitol gum can decrease the amount of visible plaque after four weeks, and also showed a decrease in bad-breath causing streptococci bacteria. And still another study found that chewing any kind of gum for 15 minutes can reduce bad breath compounds by 17 percent.
quicklist: 3category: How to Beat Bad Breath title: Go Herbal url:text: Ohio State researchers wanted to see what foods helped eliminate garlic breath -- perhaps the strongest oral maloder. They found that eating parsley and mint leaves significantly reduces garlic breath volatiles (odor-causing compounds such as allyl methyl disulfide, diallyl disulfide, allyl mercaptan and allyl methyl disulfide). They also found that apple slices and spinach were effective at reducing garlic breath.
quicklist: 4category: How to Beat Bad Breath title: Drink Green Teaurl:text: Green tea is a potent antimicrobial. Researchers out of Canada found that drinking green tea can treat bad breath by deodorizing your mouth.
Green tea actually reduces the amount of volatile sulfur compounds or VSCs that come from the bacteria in your mouth as they degrade proteins on your teeth and tongue. The polyphenols in green tea work to disinfect and deodorize the VSCs in your mouth.
Dave Zinczenko, ABC News nutrition and wellness editor, is a New York Times No. 1 bestselling author. His latest book, "Eat It to Beat It," is full of food swaps, meal plans and the latest food controversies. Sign up here for his free newsletter now!