Many people think that odorous foods cause bad breath, so they avoid eating garlic and onions before a big date. In reality, these aromatic foods have only a pungent aroma and are not the cause of halitosis. True bad breath is caused by a disruption in the oral microbiome and the overproduction of volatile sulfurous compounds by anaerobic bacteria.
Bacteria can come in both good and bad forms. Our mouths contain certain types of bacteria to help us break down the foods we eat. However, in turn, the foods we eat also affect the number of bacteria in our mouths. When we eat foods that are highly acid-forming it causes our mouths to become more acidic and harmful bacteria to grow. This bacterial imbalance is one of the main causes of bad breath.
What causes oral acidity?
Oral acidity means the mouth’s pH level is too low. An acidic oral microbiome is an indication of poor systemic health and is often associated with other medical conditions such as diabetes, alcoholism, mental disorders, and salivary gland dysfunction. Anaerobic bacteria have better conditions to grow when the mouth is too acidic. Anaerobic bacteria prefer less oxygen and reproduce by feeding on iron in blood and tissue. Low pH in the mouth is caused by dehydration and acidic-forming foods, which then lead to an imbalance and the proliferation of bad bacteria.
Acidic-forming foods are usually foods that have been processed, such as dairy, certain meats, grains, all simple carbohydrates (starches) and sugar. Alcohol, coffee, soda, and energy drinks are all dehydrating and acid-forming. Citrus fruits and vinegar are acidic on the teeth, but alkaline-forming to the body.
Eating too many acidic forming foods is not the only cause of oral bacterial imbalance, however. Other contributing causes of oral acidity include:
- Gum disease. Gum disease occurs when bone under the gums and teeth has decayed. The gap caused by the bone loss gives harmful bacteria an excellent space to spawn.
- Your nasal cavity connects directly with your oral passage, and an excess of mucous can easily drip into your mouth. Since mucus is rich in protein, the amino acids can break down once they reach the mouth and cause it to become more acidic.
- Dry mouth. When your mouth gets dry, there is not enough oxygen to keep anaerobicbacteria from growing. Therefore, oral acidity increases as anaerobic bacteria increase.
Long-term bad breath is an indication of poor periodontal health
Balancing the microbiome requires removal of the sub-gingival low-oxygen periodontal pocket where anaerobic bacteria hide and flourish. This can be accomplished with ozone debridement, periodontal surgery and bringing prosthetic restorations up to code.
A Holistic cure for bad breath
You can prevent bad breath by staying hydrated, eating less acid-forming foods, paying regular visits to your dentist and oral hygienist, oil-pulling to detox, and keeping up with your oral hygiene by using products such as alkaline mouthwash. Alka-white mouthwash is an alkaline oral care all-in-one solution that neutralizes the acidic environment in your mouth and therefore balances the oral microbiome to prevent the proliferation of bad breath causing bacteria.