I am 19 years old and am suffering from bad breath for the past 2 years. Is there a cure for this in ayurveda?

While the store shelves are spilling over with gums, mints, mouthwashes and products to fight bad breath, most of these products are only temporary measures. And hence for some people, a fear of bad breath grows to become a phobia.

The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene itself. Bacteria that build up on our teeth and tongue can produce an unpleasant smell. The food trapped between teeth will be broken down by the bacteria and may be responsible for bad breath. Proper brushing, flossing and cleaning the tongue can help control bad breath.

Ayurveda suggests using herbs having spicy, bitter and astringent tastes for teeth cleaning. Spicy herbs improve salivation; bitter herbs improve taste and fight bad breath; astringent herbs heal gum wounds and oral ulcers.

• Smoke-burned rice husk made into a charcoal finely powdered and added with rock salt or sea salt or clove or cinnamon powder is a commonly used as tooth powder in South India.

• Use mango leaves, neem powder, khadira (Acacia katechu), and licorice powder, alone or mixed together, for teeth cleaning.

• Rinsing the mouth with sesame oil or fermented rice water is suggested by ayurveda.

What to avoid

Eating strongly flavoured foods, such as garlic, onions and spices, is likely to make your breath smell. Strong-smelling drinks such as coffee can also cause bad breath. Medical conditions such as diabetes and lung, throat, or nose infections (example: bronchitis, tonsillitis, sinusitis), dry mouth conditions, GERD, gastritis, constipation, liver and kidney diseases are also causes of bad breath. Consult a doctor if you are suffering from any of these. Crash diets, low-carb or ketogenic diets, skipping meals or fasting are common causes of halitosis. Bad breath in women tends to increase before their menstrual periods.

Chewing mint leaves, basil leaves, fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves etc. can temporarily mask the smell. Reduce the use of sour foods, yogurt, meats, jaggery, black gram (urad dal) and milk.

Dr VL Shyam is a Dubai-based Ayurveda practitioner. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.