Permanently Extinguish Bad Breath
Bad breath is something that may impact up to 50% of us. While some degree of morning breath or a reaction to eating pungent foods (onions/garlic) is quite common, chronic bad breath is not only embarrassing, but may indicate some underlying health problems that need to be addressed. While conventional over-the-counter (OTC) solutions provide only temporary relief with some potential hazardous side effects, there are a number of natural remedies and practices that can solve the problem permanently. However in order to do so effectively, it’s first important to assess the cause of your bad breath so that you can choose the best treatment protocol.
Possible Causes of Bad Breath
Also called xerostomia, symptoms of dry mouth include not having enough saliva to keep the mouth wet, cracking skin around the corners of the mouth, difficulty speaking or swallowing and a chronic sore throat. Xerostomia not only causes bad breath, but can also lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Although xerostomia can be caused by Sjogren’s syndrome (SS), a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease, and other conditions (nerve damage in head/neck, endocrine disorders, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, stroke and nutritional deficiencies), one of the most common causes is from the use of both OTC and prescription drugs. Medications for urinary incontinence, allergies, high blood pressure, depression, Parkinson’s disease and diarrhea can all cause potential dry mouth. This is also true for diuretics, antihistamines and pain relief drugs. 
Those with halitosis generally have oral bacteria on the teeth, tongue and in the gum pockets (associated with gingivitis). Although some researchers says it’s rare to be the cause, internal problems such as gastrointestinal problems associated with an imbalance of good and bad bacteria may lead to both bad breath and body odor. Gum (periodontal) disease, dental caries and oral candida/thrush may also be at the route of halitosis.
According to WebMD, diseases such as respiratory tract infections (pneumonia or bronchitis), chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, acid reflux and liver/kidney problems can all cause bad breath.
Whether the bad breath is caused by internal or oral bacterial imbalances, first and foremost, it’s important to address one’s overall health. A good diet is essential to not only prevent disease, but also maintain a healthy digestive tract, which impacts every function in the body.
Optimally, one’s diet should include mostly vegetables and plant foods with a substantial portion being raw. Fermented foods and probiotic supplements are great for reintroducing good bacteria into the body. The ideal ratio of good to bad bacteria is 85/15 , which means the more good bacteria you can give your body, the healthier you’ll be. It’s also important to limit sugar intake as bacteria and fungus quickly multiply by "consuming" both sugar and foods that convert to sugar such as grains, fruit, dairy products, etc.
Chlorophyll is another great supplement/super food for treating bad breath. Chlorophyll is what is known as the plant’s blood and is very similar to hemoglobin, with the exception that it contains magnesium instead of iron. It’s antibacterial, a blood purifier, and has a cleansing effect on the intestines.
Try to also limit tobacco, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, drugs, etc. as they too can lead to bad breath. Keeping the body well hydrated is also of utmost importance, especially in the case of dry mouth.
In general, mouthwashes sold in drug stores will do little more than mask the symptoms for a very short time (usually under an hour), failing to address the underlying cause. They also contain a significant amount of ethanol alcohol (26%), which can cause oral disease such as bacteria infections, tooth decay and cancer of the mouth with extensive use. Sugar free gum and mints are also short-term solutions that are not good for the body due to the artificial ingredients they contain such as aspartame (a dangerous sugar substitute). If you are looking for a healthier solution for immediate bad breath relief, your best bet is to use essential oils such as thyme, peppermint, wintergreen and eucalyptus. Research shows that these oils (which are 100x stronger than herbal extracts) can reduce inflammation and plaque by more than 75%, lasting up to 3 hours.
Finally, be sure to invest in a good tongue scraper to use on a daily basis. Much more effective than brushing the tongue with a toothbrush, a tongue scraper will remove the bacteria from the back of the mouth and greatly reduce halitosis and its symptoms, especially in combination with a good diet and discontinued use of artificial mouthwashes.
 Mercola, J. (2008, June 5). Can new mouthwashes really take bad breath away? Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/06/05/can-new-mouthwashes-really-take-bad-breath-away.aspx
 Mercola, J. (2010, January 12). How to lick bad breath fast-as easy as 1, 2, 3… Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/01/12/how-to-lick-bad-breath-and-dry-mouth.aspx
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/dental/xerostomia.htm
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/bad-breath
 Adams, M. (2009, October 16). Got bad breath? Try chlorophyll for halitosis. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/027256_chlorophyll_halitosis.html
 Jockers, D. (2011, May 16). Fight bad breath naturally. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/032408_bad_breath_solutions.html (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.longevitywarehouse.com/Tongue-Cleaner-p/tonguecleaner.htm
Kara wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.