Many people have made the observation that curing bad breath permanently is frustratingly difficult. Even when halitosis sufferers find a product or lifestyle that effectively controls breath odor, the problem seems to recur immediately if the control measures are stopped. As with many things in health and medicine, attempts to find a permanent cure are hampered by a lack of understanding of what causes halitosis at the most basic level.
We know that the reason for bad breath is usually the proliferation of anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that grow in the absence of oxygen) in the mouth - particularly in the little crevices on the back of the tongue, but also in other creases and crevices such as the spaces between the teeth and in pockets between the teeth and gums. The offending bacteria break down proteins and give of volatile sulfur compounds as a byproduct. Volatile sulfur compounds smell awful. This much we know: what we don't know, in many cases, is why the anaerobes proliferate to begin with, and curing bad breath depends on understanding that process.
In some cases, the reason for bad breath is obvious. Dental decay, gum disease, plaque buildup on the teeth, and other inflammatory conditions of the mouth are obvious causes - in these situations, the conditions are right for bacteria to multiply as they live off unhealthy and dead tissue. Sinus conditions, post nasal drip and inflammation in the throat or lungs are less obvious sources of trouble. For these conditions, curing bad breath depends on clearing up the inflammatory condition - often a lengthy and expensive process if it is possible at all.
In many cases of chronic halitosis, the reason for bad breath is much harder to pinpoint. Lots of healthy people with healthy mouths and no underlying medical problems have problems with breath odor. Where there is no underlying condition, curing bad breath often means merely controlling it on an ongoing basis. Typically, this requires using a product that will mask, reduce, or eliminate the odor temporarily. Numerous commercial products are available, forming a multimillion dollar industry in developed countries.
Recently, some interesting suggestions have been made with respect to life style and curing bad breath. Could a poor diet and lack of exercise contribute to the proliferation of unhealthy bacteria in the mouth? At a time when we're discovering that diet and exercise play an important role in many diseases, it's not too surprising to hear this may be the reason for bad breath as well. Adequate B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and zinc are all thought to be important, as well as a diet that contains lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fortunately, these dietary nutrients, combined with regular exercise, are the same ones recommended for good health in other respects. In cases where the cause of bad breath is a mystery, a life style change might well be helpful.
Every individual case is different - to uncover the reason for bad breath in your case, consult your doctor and/or dentist, and discuss treatment options.
R. Drysdale is a freelance writer with more than 25 years experience as a health care professional. She is a contributing editor to Curing Bad Breath , a blog dedicated to the treatment of bad breath.