Signs & Symptoms

How To Get Rid of Bad Breath: 13 Evidence-Backed Ways

Bad breath can be an embarrassing and stressful problem to deal with. If you're wondering how to get rid of bad breath, this is for you. We're going to go over several bad breath causes, giving you the information you need to see what is currently causing your own case of halitosis. We'll also give you 13 evidence-backed ways to get rid of bad breath that you can try at home. (1)

Contents:

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath: 13 Evidence-Backed Ways
  1. Heal Your Gut
  2. Watch What You Eat
  3. Coconut Pull Every Day
  4. Managing Diabetes
  5. Reduce or Stop Smoking
  6. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
  7. Manage Your Kidney Function
  8. Monitor Your Blood Sugar
  9. Treat Your SIBO
  10. Take Care of Your Dry Mouth
  11. Manage Your Liver Function
  12. Treat any Bacterial Infections
  13. Pay Attention to Your Respiratory Tract
Bottom Line

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath: 13 Evidence-Backed Ways

1. Heal Your Gut

When it comes to your gut, there are several things that can cause bad breath. Healing your gut is one way to help you get rid of your bad breath problem, as things like an infection of H. Pylori bacteria and inflammation can cause problems for your digestive tract, leading to unpleasant odours.

(2)(3) Promoting digestive enzymes is a way to help you heal your gut. These enzymes can help your body break down large proteins and bacterial by-products. In turn, this is healthier for your gut because these proteins and by-products won't be able to damage the lining of your digestive tract and cause inflammation. (4) It's important that you focus on your stress levels and on implementing ways to manage these properly.

Stress can lead to inflammation in your digestive tract lining, and small fissures can form that allow bad bacteria to pass through and cause infection. It can also cause problems with excess gas buildup, and this can back up into your oesophagus and cause a sulphur smell. (5)(6) Eating healthy fats can help you heal your gut because short-chain fatty acids help give your cells needed nutrients. These healthy fats will also help the bacteria in your gut produce more n-butyrate, and this helps to keep the inner walls of your digestive tract healthy. (7)

2. Watch What You Eat

Eating an unhealthy diet may contribute to bad breath because pieces of the things you eat can end up stuck on your tongue and between your teeth. Additionally, certain foods can cause an influx of bacteria that expel unpleasant by-products as they work to break down food in your mouth.

(8) Consider cutting certain unhealthy foods out of your diet and adding in more healthy, organic alternatives. Removing things like ultra-processed and refined foods, sugar, gluten and wheat can help start the healing process and get rid of your bad breath. These things can cause a lot of inflammation and issues with your digestive system in general. In turn, your stomach acid could back up and cause you to burp. (9)(10) Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can have negative implications for your breath.

One way it contributes to bad breath is by triggering acid reflux, and it can also encourage the bacteria that cause bad breath to be more prevalent than usual. Cutting back on your alcohol consumption can help clean up your breath. (11)(12) You may also want to consider reducing the number of carbonated drinks and coffee you consume in favour of water or tea. The caffeine in coffee and the acid in carbonated drinks can directly dry out your mouth. As we mentioned earlier, not having enough saliva in your oral cavity can cause your breath to smell unpleasant. (13)(14)

3. Coconut Pull Every Day

Oil pulling has a history that dates back centuries as a viable medical treatment to remove harmful bacteria and improve your oral hygiene. To benefit from this, simply swish a small amount of coconut oil around in your mouth once or twice a day. There are claims that the coconut oil will "pull" the bacteria from your mouth, stimulate saliva production and moisturise your gums.

(15)(16) There are around 700 different types of bacteria that can survive in your mouth, and the average person will have around 350 different types at any given time. Certain bacteria types can contribute to bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. One study showed that people who engaged in oil pulling for 10 minutes each day had significantly lower amounts of bacteria present in their mouths than those who used standard mouthwash.

(17)(18)(19) There was another study that took participants and split them into two groups. One group rinsed their mouths with water and the other group used coconut oil every day for two weeks. The group who used the coconut oil not only had fewer bacteria in their mouths, but also in their saliva directly. Other studies showed that pulling with coconut oil each day could be as effective for helping prevent bad breath and tooth decay as certain toothpastes and mouthwashes. (20)(21)(22)

4. Managing Diabetes

Did you know that your breath can give interesting clues to your overall health? For people with diabetes, there are two main causes of bad breath. Once you get your diabetes under control and start managing your ketone levels along with your periodontal disease, you should notice your bad breath subsiding. (23)(24) People who have diabetes can have a fruity smelling breath or a metallic taste each time they eat. This form of bad breath occurs because your body can't produce insulin.

When this happens, your cells won't receive the proper amount of glucose they need to perform their tasks, so they switch to burning fat cells. This produces ketones, which slowly build up in your urine and blood. This can give you the metallic taste, and cause your breath to smell like nail polish remover. (25)(26) Diabetics also suffer from high amounts of periodontal disease where the bacteria in your mouth attack your gums and bone.

This can cause an infection that gets worse because you usually also have restricted blood flow to these areas due to inflammation. Infections and bacteria build up lead to bad breath. (27)(28) Successfully managing your diabetes and getting it under control can help you start to heal your periodontal disease and infection. It can also help regulate your blood glucose levels, and your cells will burn the glucose instead of fat cells. This can help you cure your bad breath.

5. Reduce or Stop Smoking

Over a billion people around the world smoke, and many of these start at a worryingly young age. Unfortunately, there are several links between bad breath and smoking. This includes both cigarette and cigar smoking. (29) The tar and tobacco in cigarettes and cigars can stick to your teeth and in your mouth.

These substances have a strong odour, which gets worse the longer they stay in your mouth. Nicotine is the yellow, oily liquid that acts as a stimulant in tobacco. It's highly addictive, and it can coat your teeth and gums when you smoke. (30)(31) Another way that smoking contributes to your bad breath is by drying out your salivary glands. When this happens, the bacteria in your mouth start to thrive because your saliva contains low levels of acids that help prevent bacterial infection.

Tobacco and smoking, in general, can decrease your salivary gland production. This can lead to chronic dry mouth. (32)(33) People who cut back on the amount they smoke or who stop smoking altogether can help get rid of their dry mouth and bad breath. Your salivary glands will start working more effectively, and this can help to reduce the amount of bacteria present in your mouth. (34)

6. Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Practising good dental hygiene is one way to prevent bad breath, but it can also help to prevent other infections as well. You want to brush your teeth twice a day, floss and get regular dental checkups to ensure your mouth is in good health. If you don't, you could end up with several problems including inflammation, tooth decay, bad breath and gum disease.

(35) As mentioned earlier, you have hundreds of types of bacteria in your mouth. This bacteria plays a pivotal role in helping you break down the food particles that get caught in your teeth. Not practising good oral hygiene allows unpleasant odours from the bacteria, as well as from the decaying food, to stay in your mouth. (36)(37) Another consequence of poor oral hygiene is plaque build up on your teeth and your gums.

Plaque is a sticky substance that causes bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay if you don't remove it by brushing and flossing. Also, plaque can harden into tartar that sits just below your gum line and causes inflammation. (38)(39) For people who wear dentures, improper cleaning and maintenance can result in bad breath as well.

You can get bad breath because the bacteria can build up under the dentures. Also, any decaying food that you don't remove from your dentures can start to have a strong odour, just like it would if you had your natural teeth. (40)

7. Manage Your Kidney Function

People with chronic kidney disease experience a slow and progressive destruction of these organs. Your kidneys slowly lose their ability to excrete water-soluble waste, produce red blood cells, and balance the electrolyte and mineral content in your body.

This can also cause you to have a persistent case of bad breath. (41) As your kidneys lose the ability to flush waste products from your bloodstream, these waste products start to build up. One of the first signs that you have something wrong with your kidneys is a sharp metallic taste that doesn't go away. You'll also notice that the food you eat doesn't taste quite right, and your breath can carry an ammonia smell.

(42)(43) You can do several things to manage your chronic kidney disease and reduce the severity of the ammonia smell on your breath. To start, you have to control and monitor your blood pressure. It's also important that you cut alcohol out of your diet and switch to a more healthy regimen if you're not already on one. Finally, you can also work with your physician to find the right medications to combat the disease. (44)(45)(46)

8. Monitor Your Blood Sugar

Diabetes is a medical condition in which your body has a problem regulating blood sugar (glucose), causing it to run too high. Constantly having high blood sugar can lead to other problems like nerve damage, kidney disease, and eye issues.

(47) We've already discussed the importance of getting diabetes under control, but it is also critical that you monitor the condition in the long term. People who have diabetes tend to burn fat very quickly. This rapid fat burning produces ketones that build up in the blood. This buildup can eventually result in an acetone, fruity or nutty scent. Controlling your diabetes and keeping your ketone levels low can help your bad breath go away. (48)(49)

9. Treat Your SIBO

SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) is a medical issue in which an unhealthy amount of "bad" bacteria in your intestinal tract lining starts to overtake the "good" bacteria levels. These bacteria can lead to problems like poor nutrient absorption, digestive upset and bad breath.

(50)(51) As acid builds up in your stomach and digestive tract, the resulting gas will look for a way to escape. The easiest means of escape is by causing the body to burp, and this can lead to bad breath. Ingesting probiotics to help balance the bacteria in your body and increase can help treat this condition. (52)(53)

10. Take Care of Your Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a condition which means your salivary glands don't produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. Certain medications can cause dry mouth to varying degrees, as can stress. Saliva plays a pivotal role in washing away dead cells and neutralising bacteria. (54)(55) Small changes can help alleviate your dry mouth and get rid of your bad breath.

First, you can add more moisture into the air in your home or workplace using a humidifier unit. Using a high fluoride toothpaste will also help by addressing the lack of fluoride that you're not getting from your saliva, and it's a good idea to avoid sugars. (56)(57)

11. Manage Your Liver Function

People who have liver disease and who don't manage this properly can find themselves with several other medical problems including bad breath. Their liver's inability to deal with the amino acids in their system causes these amino acids to break down.

In turn, this creates by-products that can cause you to have very musty-smelling breath. (58)(59) It's possible to manage your liver disease by not drinking alcohol and by eating a healthier diet. You also want to check in with your doctor on a regular basis, and some medications may also help reduce the amino acid breakdown process. (60)

12. Treat any Bacterial Infections

Bacteria are everywhere, and this is the root cause for a variety of different infections ranging from respiratory and digestive tract infections through to blood infections. As the bacteria start to take over, they excrete volatile compounds like hydrogen sulphide that cause bad breath. (61)(62) Going to your doctor and getting antibiotics is one of the best ways to start treating the bacterial infection. As the bacteria starts to go away, you should notice that your bad breath starts to fade as well. (63)

13. Pay Attention to Your Respiratory Tract

13. Pay Attention to Your Respiratory Tract

Did you know that your breath's smell is one of the key ways that physicians identify things like respiratory tract infections and even lung cancer? You'll notice a distinct acid-like smell with lung cancer and a musty smell with a respiratory tract infection. (64)(65) Acquiring the right treatment and the correct antibiotics can help with any respiratory tract infection you may have. Lung cancer is far more severe and will require a range of more intensive treatment methods. (66)

Bottom Line

Bad breath can be an anxiety-inducing medical problem that can last for months or even years depending on the cause. You are advised to talk to your doctor or dentist about the issue, because they can help you determine the underlying cause. Armed with this insight, you'll then be able to formulate a treatment plan that works best for your situation.

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