The Natural Remedies column shares information on how to create your own household remedies.
My dentist is fond of saying that bad breath is better than no breath at all. He's right, but it's not much better, and the affliction of halitosis (or chronic bad breath) not only plagues millions of people in social situations, it is chiefly responsible for a toothpaste and mouthwash industry that relieves your pockets of more that $1 billion each year. It has become such a major heath "problem" that New York Times health columnist Jane Brody reports she receives more questions about bad breath than about any other topic.
If your problem is chronic, mouthwash may even be exacerbating the situation. In chronic cases, the aromas are merely a symptom of a greater problem, and washing them away with a few dollars' worth of flavored water only temporarily distracts you from the gum or tooth problems that are causing the dilemma in the first place.
For those of you who face only the occasional problem posed by a bowl of chili and onions, however, do yourself a favor and drive right by the powders and the mad scientist blue-green bottles. Make the natural remedies at home from materials that are everyone's to share.
Herbal alternatives have a long history. Records from ancient Greece offer various recipes for bad breath, including anise seed, myrrh, and the liberal use of white wine (although anyone who has come within five feet of a bobbing and weaving holiday party-goer might argue that one). The Romans used herbs and spices like sage, cinnamon, juniper seeds, root of cyprus and rosemary leaves.
Remedying bad breath begins with understanding its cause. In many cases it's due to plaque, that nearly invisible film of bacteria that's constantly forming in our mouths. There may be additional dental culprits as well, including cavities, periodontal (gum) disease, or a broken filling that traps food particles.
If you need a quick but temporary mouthwash solution, here are my favorite recipes:
Every toothpaste needs five basic ingredients: 1) a cleaning substance; 2) an abrasive; 3) an emulsifier; 4) a sweetening agent; and 5) a flavoring agent, although the last ingredient is optional. The cleaning substance does just that and is usually a soapy material; the abrasive loosens plaque; the emulsifier helps all the ingredients to mix well; the sweetening agent makes it palatable; and the flavoring agent is strictly for promotion. Instead of adding to the pockets of the cotton-candy flavor, multicolor paste manufacturers, make your own. Here's how.
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