Bad Breath's Surprising Remedy

It's something no one likes to talk about. It's embarrassing to tell someone they have it, and very embarrassing if you have it: Bad breath!

Clinically known as halitosis, bad breath can affect anyone. We’ll tell you the most common cause of bad breath, and one simple solution to help you control it. That's the subject of today's Just Explain It.

Americans spent billions of dollars on dental care in 2010, according to a study by the Pew Center on the States. However after all that money, most people will continue to battle bad breath.

[Related: Will Obamacare Take Bite Out of Dental Coverage?]

We all know onions or garlic can contribute to bad breath, but did you know that even when food is digested and then processed through your bloodstream, odors could be released from your lungs as you exhale?

Other causes of bad breath include heartburn and acid reflux. Tonsilloliths, or tonsil stones, can also make a mouth smell not so fresh. Tonsil stones are calcified deposits of bacteria, food particles and dead cells that form in the crevasses of the tonsils.

Some serious causes of bad breath can include sinus infections, bronchitis, and problems with the liver and kidneys.

But the culprits for the overwhelmingly majority of people are strong-smelling food or drink, or bacteria.

Every mouth naturally has bacteria in it, each with its own combination of 100-200 types. If you think that’s a lot, scientists have identified about a thousand types of bacteria that can inhabit a mouth and affect the way it smells.

When you eat, bacteria begin to process food, including the food particles left behind after your meal. And that creates odor and more bacteria.

[Related: What The Heck Is Clean Eating?]

But the fact is, it’s the type and not the amount of bacteria that’s the cause. A mouth without bad breath, has a balance of odor-causing and non-odor-causing bacteria. If odor-causing bacteria overruns other bacteria, then that person will have unpleasant smelling breath.

A dry mouth is another cause of odor-creating bacteria. Saliva doesn't just keep your mouth hydrated, it also cleans out food and dead cells, and fights the growth of bacteria. Because we don't produce as much saliva when we sleep, our mouths can dry out, and create more bacteria which causes morning breath. Consuming alcohol, smoking, some medications and even coffee can cause a dry mouth, too.

So, how do you control the bacteria? We all know water has good health benefits, but it also does a couple of surprising things for your breath. Water hydrates the mouth and contains oxygen and that helps deter the growth of bacteria. Water also stimulates saliva which fights bacteria, it can also restore your mouth’s pH levels and remove food particles stuck in your mouth.

[Related: Drinking Water May Provide Mental Boost]

Have some more water throughout the day and you'll be able to stay on top of those hundreds of types of bacteria, and hopefully have fresh breath.

What do you think? Are you surprised that water can be so helpful in fighting bad breath? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter using #JustExplainItNews.

Loading...
  • Midday Glance: Railroad companies

    Shares of some top railroad companies are up at 1 p.m.: CSX rose $.23 or .8 percent, to $30.81. Canadian National Railway Co. rose $.69 or 1.0 percent, to $69.26. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. rose $2.00 ...

  • Harvard Researcher on Aging: There's no 'limit on the human lifespan'
    Harvard Researcher on Aging: There's no 'limit on the human lifespan'

    My peers of a certain age will remember an Oil of Olay commercial about deciding not to grow old gracefully, but rather to "fight it every step of the way." And while we spend billions trying to turn back time, the Fountain of Youth has yet to be found at the bottom of a lotion bottle. But one researcher from Harvard Medical School, David Sinclair, believes the secret to stopping the aging process is closer than we think.

  • The Wire Debates: Is A Nutella Shortage Really Such A Bad Thing?
    The Wire Debates: Is A Nutella Shortage Really Such A Bad Thing?

    A Nutella apocalypse is upon us: Analysts are warning of a shortage of the hazelnut chocolate spread. It's all thanks to failing hazelnut crops in Turkey, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Ravaged by hail storm, frost, and other unusual weather, crops of hazelnuts—a crucial ingredient for Nutella, numbering more than 50 hazelnuts per 13-ounce jar—have dwindled and forced prices to rise by about 60 percent, which in turn could spell fewer Nutella jars in stores. In fact, when Nutella was first created, it was called "supercrema glanduja," which sort of sounds like a pretentious superhero, but also sounds like someone who would really be good at cooking.

  • How your boss will run your life in a few years
    How your boss will run your life in a few years

    Want job security? Let your company monitor you 24/7.

  • Microsoft’s plan to rebuild Internet Explorer’s image: Stop calling it Internet Explorer
    Microsoft’s plan to rebuild Internet Explorer’s image: Stop calling it Internet Explorer

    What would it take for you to give Internet Explorer another chance? What if it wasn’t Internet Explorer any more? During an Ask Me Anything on Reddit last week, engineers working on Internet Explorer discussed everything from reducing fragmentation by phasing out old versions of IE to the flavor of the cake Mozilla sent two years ago, but the most interesting reveal from the thread came when one Reddit user asked whether or not the team had ever considered rebranding the browser. “It’s been suggested internally; I remember a particularly long email thread where numerous people were passionately debating it,” wrote Jonathan Sampson. “Plenty of ideas get kicked around about how we can separate ourselves from negative perceptions that no longer reflect our

  • Apple set to expand phone size — and profits
    Apple set to expand phone size — and profits

    Wall Street is excited for Apple's upcoming iPhone revamp, as larger screens may bring higher profits

  • Gaza truce collapses, fighting erupts, Israel orders negotiators home
    Gaza truce collapses, fighting erupts, Israel orders negotiators home

    By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A ceasefire in the Gaza Strip collapsed on Tuesday, with Palestinian militants firing dozens of rockets at Israel and Israel launching air strikes that health officials said killed three people including a woman and a young girl in Gaza. Accusing Gaza Islamists of breaking the truce, Israel promptly recalled its negotiators from talks in Cairo, leaving the fate of Egyptian-brokered efforts to secure a lasting peace hanging in the balance. Rockets were fired from Gaza nearly eight hours before a ceasefire - extended by a day on Monday - was due to expire. Later dozens of rockets took aim at a number of cities and one missile hit open land in the greater Tel Aviv area, causing some damage but no casualties.

  • Lance Armstrong says the big lie would have continued
    Lance Armstrong says the big lie would have continued

    Lance Armstrong says he would still be issuing strident denials if he hadn't been caught and then forced to admit to using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France. For more than a decade, the disgraced American cyclist Armstrong repeatedly denied he ever used banned drugs and bullied others who accused him of being a cheater. Armstrong admitted to doping during a television interview broadcast in January 2013 with American talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

Follow Yahoo! News