How to Naturally Treat Tongue Coating-Associated Halitosis (Bad Breath)

4.6/5 - (230 votes)

A high-fiber meal is put to the test to reduce bad breath.

Discuss
Republish

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The word halitosis is derived from the Latin and Greek terms for abnormal or diseased breath––though it may be less of a medical term and more of a marketing term, as it was supposedly coined by the Listerine Company. Halitosis is commonly referred to as bad breath, though medical and dental professionals often use, instead of bad breath, the less judgy term, breath odor.

As described in the Journal of Breath Research, halitosis has been classified into four types. There is genuine halitosis, either transient or chronic, which is contrasted with pseudo-halitosis, when someone thinks they have bad breath, but it’s evidently all in their head, and halitophobia, where they start out with genuine halitosis, but then they treat it, and get rid of it, but still think they have it. These are rare, though. The vast majority of cases are IOH, which stands for intra-oral halitosis––bad breath arising from inside the mouth, as opposed to lungs or stomach, and not just anywhere in the mouth, but specifically, in most cases, apparently coming off the coating on the tongue.

Most people have a tongue coating, a grayish-white deposit on the tongue, which is the main cause of bad breath. Now, there are pathological conditions like black hairy tongue, whose symptoms may include an unattractive appearance of the tongue, which can be caused by certain drugs, but the normal tongue coating is just a thin, slightly moist, whitish substance across the upper surface of the tongue composed of sloughed tongue cells, bacteria, seepage from our blood supply, and secretions from our gums and postnasal area, like mucus discharge from our sinuses dripping onto the back of our tongue.

Those with gum disease tend to have four times as much coating, in terms of the wet weight scraped off the tongue due to the migration of white blood cells from periodontal pus pockets onto the tongue surface, but even in people with perfect dental hygiene, food particles can get trapped between all the little bumps and cracks on the tongue and form a thick bacterial biofilm coating. If we eat the right foods, though, our mouth may be self-cleaning. Just the act of chewing and swallowing foods that actually need chewing can cleanse off the tongue, leaving you with just the normal, thin layer of coating, but fast food is engineered to be eaten fast. It’s soft, you can just gulp it down and consequently, the thickness of the tongue coating might increase, and that could contribute to bad breath, but you don’t know until you put it to the test.

 “The effect of a chewing-intensive, high-fiber diet on oral halitosis,” a randomized clinical cross-over study, in which subjects were examined over a period of 2.5 hours after consumption of a high-fiber vs. low-fiber meal using an organoleptic assessment of halitosis. Although a few electronic bad-breath detectors have appeared on the market, organoleptic scoring is still the ‘gold standard,’ which is just a fancy name for when dentists or doctors just give your breath a sniff. Here’s the ratings they use: no halitosis detected even up close and personal, or yeah, bad breath, but only up to about four inches away, or out to a foot, or all the way out to more than a yard.

We know halitosis is reduced by eating, due to the “self-cleaning” of the mouth while chewing food, and it seems obvious that foods that need to be chewed more intensively have a stronger self-cleaning effect than foods that require less chewing. But whether this is actually the case had never been examined, until now. The participants were randomized to a high-fiber, high-chew meal with a whole grain roll with jam and a raw apple, versus a low-fiber, low-chew white bread roll with jelly and a cooked apple and, the result: a significantly lower bad breath score immediately after the high-fiber meal, and then two-and-a-half hours later, compared to the low-fiber meal. The researchers conclude that a chewing-intensive, high-fiber meal led to a greater reduction of halitosis.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The word halitosis is derived from the Latin and Greek terms for abnormal or diseased breath––though it may be less of a medical term and more of a marketing term, as it was supposedly coined by the Listerine Company. Halitosis is commonly referred to as bad breath, though medical and dental professionals often use, instead of bad breath, the less judgy term, breath odor.

As described in the Journal of Breath Research, halitosis has been classified into four types. There is genuine halitosis, either transient or chronic, which is contrasted with pseudo-halitosis, when someone thinks they have bad breath, but it’s evidently all in their head, and halitophobia, where they start out with genuine halitosis, but then they treat it, and get rid of it, but still think they have it. These are rare, though. The vast majority of cases are IOH, which stands for intra-oral halitosis––bad breath arising from inside the mouth, as opposed to lungs or stomach, and not just anywhere in the mouth, but specifically, in most cases, apparently coming off the coating on the tongue.

Most people have a tongue coating, a grayish-white deposit on the tongue, which is the main cause of bad breath. Now, there are pathological conditions like black hairy tongue, whose symptoms may include an unattractive appearance of the tongue, which can be caused by certain drugs, but the normal tongue coating is just a thin, slightly moist, whitish substance across the upper surface of the tongue composed of sloughed tongue cells, bacteria, seepage from our blood supply, and secretions from our gums and postnasal area, like mucus discharge from our sinuses dripping onto the back of our tongue.

Those with gum disease tend to have four times as much coating, in terms of the wet weight scraped off the tongue due to the migration of white blood cells from periodontal pus pockets onto the tongue surface, but even in people with perfect dental hygiene, food particles can get trapped between all the little bumps and cracks on the tongue and form a thick bacterial biofilm coating. If we eat the right foods, though, our mouth may be self-cleaning. Just the act of chewing and swallowing foods that actually need chewing can cleanse off the tongue, leaving you with just the normal, thin layer of coating, but fast food is engineered to be eaten fast. It’s soft, you can just gulp it down and consequently, the thickness of the tongue coating might increase, and that could contribute to bad breath, but you don’t know until you put it to the test.

 “The effect of a chewing-intensive, high-fiber diet on oral halitosis,” a randomized clinical cross-over study, in which subjects were examined over a period of 2.5 hours after consumption of a high-fiber vs. low-fiber meal using an organoleptic assessment of halitosis. Although a few electronic bad-breath detectors have appeared on the market, organoleptic scoring is still the ‘gold standard,’ which is just a fancy name for when dentists or doctors just give your breath a sniff. Here’s the ratings they use: no halitosis detected even up close and personal, or yeah, bad breath, but only up to about four inches away, or out to a foot, or all the way out to more than a yard.

We know halitosis is reduced by eating, due to the “self-cleaning” of the mouth while chewing food, and it seems obvious that foods that need to be chewed more intensively have a stronger self-cleaning effect than foods that require less chewing. But whether this is actually the case had never been examined, until now. The participants were randomized to a high-fiber, high-chew meal with a whole grain roll with jam and a raw apple, versus a low-fiber, low-chew white bread roll with jelly and a cooked apple and, the result: a significantly lower bad breath score immediately after the high-fiber meal, and then two-and-a-half hours later, compared to the low-fiber meal. The researchers conclude that a chewing-intensive, high-fiber meal led to a greater reduction of halitosis.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Doctor's Note

This is the first of two videos on halitosis, though more will be released in the coming months. The next video is Foods That Cause and Help Halitosis (Bad Breath).

What about oil pulling? See Oil Pulling for Teeth Whitening and Bad Breath Tested.

Eating healthier can also help with other aspects of oral hygiene. See Plant-Based Diets: Oral Health and Plant-Based Diets: Dental Health.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here. Read our important information about translations here.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This