Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Help for Halitosis?

Can you suggest any natural remedies for bad breath?

Answer (Published 5/21/2007)

The usual cause of bad breath is bacteria growing on food that accumulates between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums. The obvious solution is brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing between your teeth daily and brushing your tongue as well as your teeth. You can do this with a toothbrush or gum scraper, a special metal or plastic instrument you use once or twice a day. I wouldn't put much faith in mouthwashes like Scope or Listerine to eliminate bad breath. While they may help, they often don't penetrate into the crevices of the tongue. That's why I prefer brushing or scraping the tongue directly. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but you will quickly get used to it.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor - If you are interested in supplementing your diet but don't know where to start, take Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. It is free, and provides a personalized vitamin & supplement recommendation based on your health history. Visit today!

Switching toothpastes might also help to resolve a bad breath problem. Try one containing chlorine dioxide or look in your local health-food or herb store for products containing tea-tree oil, a powerful disinfectant that smells a bit like eucalyptus.

To deal with temporary bad breath stemming from eating garlic, onions or other pungent foods, try chewing a bit of parsley or some fennel seeds. Brushing, flossing and mouthwashes don't eliminate this kind of odor but can mask it until your body eliminates the food that is responsible. Avoid regular use of breath freshening mints containing the artificial sweetener aspartame, which tastes peculiar and has been linked with headaches in some people.

Persistent bad breath (or a bad taste in the mouth) can be a warning sign of gum disease. Here, the bacteria that make up plaque create toxins that irritate the gums, so that they become inflamed and may bleed. If you have regular dental checkups, your dentist should spot early signs of this problem and recommend treatment (often from a periodontist).

Another potential cause of bad breath is dry mouth due to insufficient secretion of saliva as a result of salivary gland problems, breathing through the mouth or taking one or more of a number of medications that make the mouth dry. These include decongestants, diuretics and other blood pressure medications, antidepressants, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, and drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease. If you take any such drugs regularly, ask your doctor or pharmacist to suggest an alternative.

Bad breath can also be a sign of thrush, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, a respiratory tract infection, diabetes, a gastrointestinal problem or liver or kidney disease. Before investigating these possible causes, see your dentist to determine whether or not your breath problem originates in your mouth. If not, see your physician to investigate further.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here