Halitosis: Bane of Every Date

Halitosis, also referred to as “bad breath”, is a minor health issue in the scheme of things, but deemed so important by people that it keeps the gum, breath spray and mouthwash industries afloat since we spend millions of dollars each year on these products.

What Causes Halitosis?

You’re probably familiar with garlic breath. Well, garlic does contribute to bad breath, as do several other foods, like onions, fish, and any diet rich in fats and meat. Digestion of these foods releases various chemicals that are carried through the bloodstream to the lungs where they are released in our breath. Scary, isn’t it?

Did you also know that, when proteins in the body are broken down for energy, the byproducts of that breakdown are also released through the lungs – so if you’ve missed some meals, are hungry, fasting or on a low-calorie diet, someone could figure that out by smelling your breath!

Smoking, alcohol, gum disease, various infections, pregnancy, various diseases and a lack of oral hygiene can also cause bad breath, as can some medications.

Some People Don’t Even Know They HAVE Halitosis!

Your nose actually gets used to bad smells if it is constantly exposed to them, so if you actually have halitosis, there’s a good chance that you have no idea. You might have to be told, or you might have to watch the reactions of other people when you talk to them! If you didn’t think this was an awkward condition before, well…

Treating Halitosis

As mentioned before, there are lots of gum, spray and mouthwash options out there that provide temporary bad breath relief – but the key word there is ‘temporary’. The most effective way to treat bad breath is to properly care for your mouth! Brush, floss and rinse regularly – don’t forget to brush your tongue, too.

Other ways to get rid of bad breath include:

  • eat regularly! Skipping meals contributes to bad breath. Three small meals per day with a snack between each meal will help keep you feeling full – high protein and fibre intake is important for this!
  • get a cleaning system recommendation from your dentist to give you a more thorough cleaning than what your toothbrush can provide.
  • eat fibrous foods. Chewing herbs like parsley and wintergreen stimulates saliva flow, as does drinking acidic fruit juices or eating acidic fruits like citrus.
  • drink plenty of water – eight glasses per day. More water means more saliva flow, which means more bacteria getting washed away.
  • don’t drink so much alcohol or coffee. Replace some of it with that water you should be drinking!
  • check with your doctor regarding any medications you’re taking – some of them may contribute to bad breath (including antidepressants and birth control)


Halitosis is not a new problem. There are records from 1550 BCE detailing cases of halitosis, and one mentioned remedy from such records was a mouthwash made of wine and herbs. Unfortunately I would imagine such a mouthwash, due to the alcohol content, would make things worse – but it would hopefully taste good, at least.

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