From the Ayurvedic perspective, the root cause of bad breath is poor digestion and/or poor oral hygiene. The two are usually related, in that poor digestion accelerates oral activity that leads to unsavory breath. The good news is that there are some easy fixes that do not involve just masking bad breath.
Let’s look at a few causes. They include poor digestion, dry mouth, gum problems, tooth decay, poor oral hygiene, postnasal drip, some medications, respiratory issues and certain foods.
When it originates in the mouth, bad breath is due mainly to sulfur-producing bacteria that live on the surface of the gums, tongue and throat. When these bacteria in the mouth break down protein, they release a sulfurous odor — causing bad breath. Improperly-digested food, known as ama in Ayurveda, coats the surfaces of the digestive tract and is the fodder that allows these unhealthy bacteria to thrive.
Oral hygiene and balanced digestion are the first lines of defense in keeping your breath fresh. A good technique for removing the coating from the tongue is to use a tongue cleaner. Tongue cleaning has long been a part of the Ayurvedic tradition and is widely practiced in Eastern cultures. By removing the soft plaque from the tongue, especially the back of the tongue, you eliminate the tongue-based bacteria that create the malodorous sulfur compounds.