Today, I remember the general morning assembly of my generation’s primary school days. It took place on the play field, if the school had one, or elsewhere out door on the grounds. Each class field in a long queue, attended to by the class teacher. After the Christian “worship” and prayers, it would be time for “health” inspection. Every-one showed his nails. If they were long or the underneath was dirty, they were cut and cleaned and, as punishment, the pupil was caned. The uniform, too, was inspected. Pupils who were dirty and/or wore torn uniforms were caned and sent home. Bushy hair was cut with attendant punishment. Anyone who did not bath that morning was ordered bathed by a pupil of the opposite gender. For this reason, everyone took personal hygiene seriously. And for pupils whose mouth smelled, either from bacterial or viral degradation of their mouth tissue, or from the breakfast of that day, a public mouth cleaning took place. Then those days, I learned to clean my mouth after every meal and to try and smell my breath before leaving home for school in those days and, today, before hopping off to work or elsewhere.
Today, almost every adult of my generation is conscious of personal hygiene. We bath in the morning and before we retire to bed. Some men cut their hair about two times a month. In the female personal hygiene market, the salons are making good fortune from hair treatment, retouches and styling. Our dressing has now left the realm of wearing something to cover nudity to ego or power packaging and, for many women, coquetry in addition. But many people, men and women, young and old, fail in one department … their breath. For the breath of many people stinks.
About four years ago, a woman aged 24 asked me for natural cure of her bad breath. When I asked if there was anything unusual about her mouth, tongue and gum, it turned out there were many. Her tongue was heavily coated with grayish and slimy matter, and the inside of the cheekbone, on one side was, a ring of infected tissue reddish on the inside and ringed by whitish dots of inflamed matter on the edges. The Yoruba of south- western Nigeria call it owo eyo (r: m: r 🙂 because it resemble a coin, which is owo or money or cowrie (owo eyo), used in pristine times as a medium of exchange. This is caused sometimes by the human papilovirus and requires antiviral treatment. There is no doubt that exudations from this infection can tamper with clean, fresh breath.
When we think, or talk of, bad breath, we think, quite naturally, of the mouth. But bad breath sometimes, if not often, has origins in the sinuses of the nose, the throat, upper respiratory tract, the stomach, the intestine, diseased liver and kidney(s), cancer, the blood and the lymph. In the mouth, bad breath may be temporary or chronic, that is, longstanding. Temporary bad breath may arise from the eating of spicy foods which release sulfur and certain essential oils in the mouth, intestine and blood. Bacterial in the mouth may degrade these oils and worsen the breath. While such bad breath may be easily overcome by brushing teeth and gums and resorting to mouth washes, a more difficult type may defy these approaches to eliminate it. This more difficult type often results from a film of bacteria which clings to the teeth and gums and enables these bacteria to eat up food remnants in the mouth that is not cleaned up after a meal. The poisons from this action cause teeth decay and gum disease, among several mouth aliments that are their handiwork. According to the Microbiome Database (HOMD), there are about 700 prokaryote species of bacteria in the human oral cavity. There are about 200 projects ongoing worldwide to determine just how many bacteria, friendly and otherwise, that are present in each person’s mouth. Dr. Eric Shapira, at the time he was assistant clinical professor and lecturer at the University of the Pacific School of dentistry, said “there are 50 trillion of these microscopic organisms loitering in your mouth.”
hese bacteria may be living or dead. One of the ways it would appear nature gets rid of them is through antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) present in the saliva. Many studies suggest that the production of IgA in the parotid siliving gland decreases with age, which may suggest why, all things equally, the mouths of young people are more resistant to bad breath or mouth odour than those of much older people.
Dr Shapira suggests that, to get rid of this film of bacteria, the teeth should be brushed, clean of them, after every meal. Where a brush and toothpaste are not readily available, he says:
“When you can’t brush, you can rinse. Go to the restroom after meals and get a mouthful of water, swish it around and wash the smell of food from your mouth.”
He says that if you are at a restaurant and you cannot excuse yourself from the table that is not a food excuse not to clean up. “Take a sip from your water glass”, he says, “and discreetly circulate the water across and around your teeth, then swallow those offending bits of food.”
Failure to do this is one way of causing trouble in the mouth. Another way may be through tooth-picking food debris caught between two teeth. A pick may miss the target and injure the gum by puncturing it. I learned my own lesson about this the hard way. Today, I use dental floss. It comes in different forms. I have graduated from the thread type to the type with a structure like a harp. I have seen even two types of this. The American-made type lasts longer. After use, I keep it in saline water and may re-use over, say, one week. The string of the Chinese brand is thinner, and may break before a second flossing.
Dr Shapira must laugh when he learns about how I break his rules on rights that I am too tired to clean up and would like to just fling myself into bed after work. On such a night, I may open one or two capsules of Golden seal root and empty them in my mouth. Then I brush it on the gums teeth and tongue. The anti-microbial prevents adherence of the microbes to human tissue and then kills them. In the alternative, I may do the same with Diatom, also called Diatomaceous health or Edible Earth. It does the same and more. In addition to this, one may try mouth washes. Dr Shapira says the choice may be determined by colour and flavour. I take notice of two from his suggestion. The colour of one is green, the other red. The green contains essential oil such as thyme, eucalyptus, peppermint, and winter green as well as sodium benzoate or benzoic acid for preservation. The red may contain zinc compounds. A deficiency of these compounds has been linked to bad breath.
If these do not appear to help, a dentist may be consulted. For the problem may be hibernating in the root canals or may arise from decaying mercury fillings or decomposing gums.
Dr James Lind
We cannot talk about oral or mouth hygiene without a mention of Dr. James Lind (4 October 1716 to 13 July 1794). A Scottish physician, he save British sailors from a seemingly intractable problem of gum disease and falling teeth. He discovered that citrus fruits prevented scurvy, a condition of bleeding gums, gum and teeth disease. In those days, the importance of Vitamins C for the prevention of scurvy was not known. Scurvy or bleeding comes when connecting tissue of cells is weak. Vitamin C and the bioflavoniods strengthen connective tissue. Dr Linus Paule, father of Vitamin C research of our generation who died at the age of 103 and received two Nobel Awards on Vitamin research not shared with any one, found that, by the time the gums start to bleed, bleeding would have been going on in the organs for long time. In Dr Lind’s days, 1,400 of 1,900 sailors died of survy in one single incident. Although Dr Lend was not the first to suggest citrus fruits as anti–scorbutic agents, he was the first to study their impact in 1747, which has been suggested as one of the first clinical experiments in medicines history. He divided scurvy-suffers sailors into six groups and found that the group which took cider with their meals and that which had two oranges and one lime recovered significantly enough to be fit for work.
Borrowing a leaf from Dr Linds work, I began my breakfast this Ramadan 2015 with the juice of four oranges and that of four limes in which I dissolve one teaspoonful of wheatgrass powder for minerals and vitamins, and a quarter or half teaspoon of spirulina for proteins. Then, I do not forget to take 1,000mg of the alkaline or buffered form of vitamin C. Wheatgrass and spirulina contain chlorophyll, which deodourses the mouth and blood, and kill germs, besides.
Bad breath can come also from inflamed, blocked or dripping sinuses. These are hallow passages in the nasal cavity which facilitates air movement in and out of the body and helps in the balancy of pressure. We can tell of their importance when they are blocked through the heaviness we feel in the head and in the ears. Congestion in the sinuses encourages the proliferation of germs which, in turn, breeds odour. The odour, being gaseous, may appear in the mouth as bad breath. It has been suggested by some authorities that these congestions occur to trap germs and should not be supressed but rather encouraged to do their job which involves trapping and sweeping out the microbes and disturbing foreign agents. In biochemic medicine the colour of the mucus indicates a certain cell salt deficiency which gave rise to the condition. For example, a bloody mucoid discharge indicates a need for ferrum phosphate. Oregano oil spray are useful in keeping the sinuses free as are other circulation promoting herbs such as cayenne. If the tongue is gray, indicating candida presence, it is the time to take anti-fungals such as Amazon AF or Amazon CF or pau d A’rco. Use may be found for colloidal silver. It may be let in through a dropper and sniffed in, used for a mouth wash, or taken internally, as oral trush may indicate overload of candida in the gut and/or blood stream. This treatment may also be adopted for throat and upper respiratory tract conditions which may breed germs and throw up such odour that may seek outlet through the mouth.
A fruity smell in the breath suggests serious diabetes. The breath is often a telling tale for diagnosis. At the western new england university, researchers were testing a breath analyzer which can detecth if the patient is diabetes free or prediabetic. Diabetes releated bad breath (halitosis) has two major origins. The first is Periodontal disease (gum disease). The other is the presence of large amounts of ketones in the blood. Periodontal disease is like a two-way traffic or double-edged sword. Diabetes can cause periodontal disease, periodontal disease can complicate the problems of diabetics. A report on the IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Science says about one in three diabetics may experince periodontal disease, heart disease and stroke. Diabetes reduces blood flow by thickening the blood and causing blockages to circulation. When the gums are not well supplied with blood and oxygen, they may become weak and succumb to infections. Infections eat up the gums, causing bad breath. If diabetes elevates glucose levels in the mouth, this will promote bacteral growth, infection and halitosis (bad breath). Gum infections are more difficult for the body to fight when glucose levels in the blood rise. In gum disease, germs attack the structure which builds the teeth down in the gum. Gum disease may lead to gum inflamation (gingivitis). Inflamation has been found to affect metabolism and raise blood sugar, which is bad news for the diabetics some of the symptoms of periodontal disease, which produces bad breath, are redness of the gum, bleeding gums, teeth sensitive to cold and heat and receding gums. As for high levels of Kentos in the blood which manifests in the breath, they arise as a factor when the body isn’t burning glucose and there is a resort to fats for energy. Kentons build up in the blood and urine. They are produced, also during a fast or restriction to a high protein diet, and low carborhydrate diet. Bad breath comes with high Kentons level. One Ketone fraction called Acetone is a chemical found in nail polish. So, it can cause an odour in the breath which resembles nail polish. A high Ketone level may cause a condition called Ketoacidosis (DKA), the symptoms of which may include a sweet and fruity odour in the breath, more frequent urination, nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting elevated blood glucose levels, shortness of breath, and mental confusion.
aturally, the question will arise: how can one normalise blood sugar level? This is an important question often addressed in this column, because elevated blood sugar is too dangerous to health and life to be treated with kid gloves. Many people do not know their blood sugar levels had been rising for years. They get to know when their Kidneys have problems filtering the urine out of the blood. In extreme cases, a paralysed kidney function may lead to amonia odour in the breath. If you were ever in an office of the 1980s where building plans were printed, the stench which greeted you in those days was ammonia. It is the stench you encounter in the pit toilet filled with nitrogenous waste. This waste is plentiful, too, in the constipated intestine, which is a mini pit toilet. If the ammonia in the intestine escapes into the bloodstream, it may cause aches and pain in the brain. In this case, it is stupid to try to suppress the pain with pain killers instead of tackling it at the root. The kidney is meant to screen it out of the blood. When it fails on a large scale to do this, the ammonia may appear in the breath as a symptom of kidney disease. Like blood pressure (low or high) from which I have seen many people die, I do not take elevated blood sugar for granted. To aid balancing of blood sugar, I have learned over many years the importance of blood sugar cleansing, recomposition of the blood, or blood building, and the care of the endocrine glands which function like an orchestra, with the pituitary gland as the choir master. These endocrine glands include the pineal gland pancreas, the thyroid, parathyroid, the adrenal glands and the pituitary, the testes and the ovaries. There are herbs which work for them all in various degrees as there are herbs which are specific for each. As an example, the red kidney bean pod, taken as tea, clears up all swellings caused by kidney insufficiency. So does Serrapeptase which dissolves blockages. I have experimented with diatom, and have witnessed my random blood sugar come down to 90 from about 140. I am yet to check its effect on cholesterol which it is said to also control. My favorite blood sugar burners include Chromium, Cinnamon, Fenugreek, Bitter melon, Kyolic, Magnesium, Zinc, Horsetail and proprietary blends which include Nature’s way blood sugar, Bell’s Blood sugar balance, which is currently on my medicine cabinet, Amazon pancreas support and the likes of them. They incorporate these and many other sugar burners in varying and different proportions.