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Halitosis refers to foul or bad breath, which is not an uncommon condition. Unfortunately, most people who offend in this respect are completely unaware of their problem.
The most common cause of halitosis is diseased gums. Dental decay at the roots of the teeth may result in abscesses in the gums with foul-smelIing pus, giving an objectionable odour to the breath. Even small holes in the teeth may provide a place where germs can multiply and release foul odours.
Other causes of halitosis are any conditions of the nose, throat, respiratory tract, or stomach which are associated with chronic infection or local upsets of one sort or another, such as chronic tonsilIitis, lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis, chronic gastritis, and sinusitis which causes a discharge at the back of the throat. Many cases of bad breath, however, are caused by gastro-intestinal disorders, intestinal sluggishness and particularly, by chronic constipation.
Among the several home remedies for halitosis, the use of fenugreek has proved most effective. A tea made from the seeds of this vegetable should be taken regularly for correcting the condition. This tea is prepared by putting one teaspoon of seeds in half a litre of cold water and allowing it to simmer for fifteen minutes over a low flame. It should then be strained and used as tea.
Another effective remedy for bad breath is avocado which is far superior to any mouth lotion or remedies for this condition. It effectively removes intestinal putrefaction or decomposition which is one of the most important causes of bad breath.
Unripe guava is useful in halitosis. It is rich in tannic, malic, oxalic, and phosphoric acids as well as calcium, oxalate, and manganese. Chewing it is an excellent tonic for the teeth and gums. It helps care bleeding from gums and stops bad breath. Chewing tender leaves of guava tree also stops bleeding from gums and bad breath.
Patients suffering from halitosis should take a well-balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits, with emphasis on raw and cooked vegetables, and fruits. In case of constipation, all measures should be adopted for its eradication. The patient should avoid refined carbohydrate foods, such as white sugar, white bread and products made from them, as well as meat and eggs.
The teeth should be cleaned twice a day, especially before going to bed at night. Meat particles should be removed carefully with toothpicks. In case of decaying teeth and swollen and bleeding gums, a dentist should be consulted. Munching a raw apple or guava after lunch removes most of the trapped particles. The use of the twigs of the margosa (neem) tree as a toothbrush is the best method of cleaning the teeth.