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.

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