by Lewis Gross
Many people think that odorous foods cause bad breath, so they avoid eating garlic and onions before a big date. But while these foods might have a pungent aroma, they 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 that help break down the foods we eat. At the same time, the foods we eat affect the amount of bacteria in our mouths. When we eat foods that are highly acid forming, our mouths become more acidic too, causing harmful bacteria to grow. This bacterial imbalance is one of the main causes of bad breath.
The cause of oral acidity
Oral acidity means the mouth’s pH level is too low. An acidic oral microbiome is an indication of poor health overall. It’s often associated with other medical conditions, such as diabetes, alcoholism, salivary gland dysfunction and even mental disorders. Anaerobic bacteria—the ones that cause bad breath—grow better when the mouth is too acidic. That’s because they prefer less oxygen and reproduce by feeding on iron in blood and tissue. Dehydration and acid-forming foods lead to low pH in the mouth, which in turn leads to the proliferation of bad bacteria.
What are acid-forming foods? Usually they are foods that have been processed, such as dairy, certain meats, grains, sugar and all simple carbohydrates (starches). Alcohol, coffee, soda and energy drinks are all dehydrating and acid forming. Citrus fruits and vinegar are acidic on the teeth, but they are alkaline-forming to the body.
Long-term bad breath is an indication of poor periodontal health, which can be restored by balancing the microbiome—removing the pockets under or along the gum line 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 naturally by staying hydrated, eating fewer acid-forming foods, regularly visiting your dentist and oral hygienist, oil pulling to detox, and using oral hygiene products such as alkaline mouthwash. Alka-White mouthwash is an all-in-one oral care solution that neutralizes acid in the mouth in order to prevent the proliferation of bacteria that cause bad breath.
Lewis Gross, DDS, is the director of Holistic Dentists, located at 17 Park Place, in Tribeca. For more information, visit Holistic-Dentists.com.