Hi there, it’s Dr. Davis again and today I’d like to talk about halitosis or bad breath. Well, specifically about the causes of breath problems that may not have occurred to you. Of course bad breath won’t kill you but it surly could kill a relationship, and for that matter, kill a career if your work has any social component. Bad breath doesn’t only affect the sufferer but those that are close by. These, of course, are the same people that are wondering if they should say something or just bear with it and not stand too close. But more importantly, bad breath equals bad health. In this case your breath doubles as a barometer for the health status of several body systems. The good news is that modern testing and treatment for halitosis has advanced way beyond flossing, and it works.
Most people know that germs in the mouth can cause halitosis, but how did the bacteria in the mouth, get so… well bad? While it’s true that bacteria can collect in the areas of the gums and teeth that are hard to brush, studies show that the bacteria that live in your mouth fully reflect the germs in your gut. Those bacteria are responsible for the volatile sulphur compounds, or VSC’s the foul-smelling gases and toxins responsible for bad breath. These bad gases can also increase the body’s production of inflammatory proteins called C-reactive protein that promotes heart disease , stroke and really any problem that involves inflammation like joint pain, swelling, and even brain fog. Commonly these bacteria will set up camp between teeth or at the back of the tongue. That’s why scraping or brushing the tongue can help with halitosis.
Bad breath is not necessarily an easy condition to diagnose because the causes can be complex and related that things you wouldn’t normally think of. It could be that your breath is trying to tell you something. So here are 4 gut related problems that commonly result in halitosis.
Culprit #1 Sinus Infection.
It’s not surprising that your nose and nasal tract can hold the cause of your breath problems. Sinus infections are common and can be chronic, leading to the accumulation of gram negative bad bacteria that tint the breath the wrong way.
The swelling and inflammation of sinus infection may begin with a virus infection and then progress to bacterial in a matter of days. The pressure and irritation increases leading to headache, sinus pressure and bad breath from the tremendous numbers of bacteria . These bugs then protect themselves from your body’s defenses and antibiotics with a slimy biofilm that can cause bad breath.
There’s an easy way to figure out if your breath issues are emanating from your nose or the mouth. Simply hold your nose and breathe out slowly for 10 seconds while your best friend smells the result. Then close your mouth and breath out slowly from your nose. You (or your BFF) should be able to distinguish the offending orifice in short order. Another option is to lick the back of your wrist, wait for it do dry and smell or you can blow your nose and smell the result.
Culprit #2 GERD –Gastroesophygeal Reflux Disorder/Heartburn
GERD is a condition where the stomach acid is forced up into the esophagus by gut pressure. It isn’t really an issue of too much acid as it is a problem of pressure developed by the small intestine (more about this in Culprit #3). This acid irritation causes a predictable bad breath. Think of it, stomach acid and pieces of food regurgitating up into the throat! That’s got to give off an odor. GERD breath is particularly bad and is usually associated with other symptoms like stomach pain, heart burn, even tooth erosion. But can begin with just a bit of throat irritation or a persistent cough. From there the environment of the mouth changes resulting in the wrong bacteria getting a foot hold, causing further breath problems.
A new study shows that 64% of Irritable Bowel patients had GERD, so if you have IBS, chances are that you have GERD as well. This study shows that both should be treated at the same time.
Culprit #3 H.pylori
Another reason for breath problems from the gut is an infection of the stomach by the bacteria Helocobacter Pylori that causes stomach ulcers. In a recent study, patients that had an H. pylori infection had an increase in a gas that causes bad breath called methyl mercaptan. These people also had higher chances of having gum disease and the breath that goes along with it.
It’s also interesting that the test for H. pylori infection is a breath measurement of hydrogen or methane showing that these bacteria are clearly affecting the breath.
Culprit #4 SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
The colon is the place that holds all the microbes that you need to make vitamins, collect energy from digested food, digest fiber, and stimulate healing of the gut wall. The small intestine however shouldn’t have that many. In fact, the large intestine should have about 10,000 times more bacteria than the small intestine.
When the small intestine bacteria “over-grow” they cause all sorts of problems like bloating, pain and gas. This gas, can be hydrogen, methane or the really bad one, sulfur dioxide. You probably know that these gases are the reason for the rotten egg smell, and as you can imagine as these gases build up, bloating increases and so does the bad breath. You may also notice that when you eat sugar, your breath worsens, because the yeast and bacteria feed on sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Even without the sulfur dioxide, the hydrogen and methane made by these bacteria can give your doctor a very good clue as to what to do to fix your problem. And this important because it can be confused with IBS. Once again, the test for SIBO is a breath test reflecting its connection to bad breath.
SO WHAT TO WE DO?
After we fully understand the underlying cause of the halitosis by testing for the fundamental cause, it’s time to direct our efforts to curing the problem.
Probiotics can be very helpful here because since gut bacteria influence mouth bacteria, you’ll want to balance the gut flora in a direction that would naturally inhibit the smelly bugs in the oral cavity. And when you add peppermint oil, salivation increases reducing “dry mouth breath” that can occur from an increase of the stress hormone cortisol.
Your gut should have a balance of somewhere near 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent that are neither good or bad, a group called commencials. Don’t forget that fermented foods are one of the best ways to re-populate the gut with good bacteria. A recent Swedish study showed that the bacteria Lactobacillus salivarius helps control bad breath, but that only 15% of people had actually have enough active beneficial mouth bacteria.
There are natural anti-microbial supplements that are very effective at arresting bad bacterial and yeast infections in the small intestine like oregano oil, uva ursi and berberine. Adding biofilm disrupters like NAC or N-acetyl cysteine, can increase the cure rate with for less complications than medications.
Digestive enzymes are another approach to normalizing digestion in the stomach. As we age, our digestive enzymes dramatically decrease allowing undigested food to putrefy and affect the breath in a bad way.
Mouthwashes that can be helpful when you are waiting for your bacteria to balance out. One recent study found that products like Dentyl Active with anti-plaque agents combined with essential oils were very helpful.
Finally, it’s really important to talk to a doc that knows the “Ins and outs” of infection, how intestinal conditions can lead to problems “up the chain” into the small intestine, stomach the throat and sinuses, and understands the natural ways to take care of it because doing this on your own can be a bit problematic. One thing we know for sure is that optimizing your gut flora will go a long way in preventing halitosis, as it strengthens your immune system, decrease toxicity and inflammation.
If you are interested in additional information about natural ways to solve your breath and other health issues, please visit our site and make sure that you are getting all our updates and new videos as they come online. If you’d like to work with me personally, you can let me know there too. So we can get that set up as soon as possible.
Help is on the way