March 15, 2016

Let’s Get Intimate: Could this 1 thing Ruin your Relationship? {Adult Q&A}

Flickr/Cristina Souza

Q. I love my husband of 10 years. He is attractive, caring, a good provider and his list of qualities goes on and on. I love kissing, closeness and intimacy. However, his breath is always terrible. 

It could be sinus drainage or three pots of coffee per day or a multitude of culprits. He brushes twice a day and has checkups every six months—no cavities and no gum disease.

I started with subtle, indirect remarks to encourage more oral care. That did not work. Then I started occasionally letting him know that maybe he ate something that might need mouthwash to help. Subtle and kind remarks went nowhere. If I blatantly say, “Baby, your breath is stinky,” he sulks but still doesn’t rush to gargle or brush.

If somebody told my breath was stinky, I would rush to floss, gargle and grab a toothbrush. Not him, he just gets his feelings hurt. He also burps a lot and claims he cannot help it. I find it disgusting.

Bad breath and burping totally shut down my desire, and we certainly don’t engage in deep, sensuous kissing. In all other respects, this guy is so courteous and has good hygiene.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

A. With all your husband’s positive qualities, it seems his unpleasant breath is the one big hurdle you both have to overcome. (And if you look at it that way, things don’t seem so bleak!)

Let’s break it down. There are two primary places bad breath originates—the oral cavity (mouth and throat) and the stomach.

The Mouth and Throat.

Underneath our tongues, there are bacteria hard at work, breaking down proteins that we ingest by eating and drinking. There are also naturally occurring proteins that are found in blood, mucus, phlegm and the like. Now when these laboring bacteria do their beautiful thing as part of the digestion process, they also excrete sulfur compounds as waste. (I know it’s not fun to think of bacteria excreting waste into our mouths and throats—but if they didn’t, we’d be in far worse shape, digestively speaking.)

The deal is that if this production line of breaking down and excretion is not cleared out properly, bad breath will occur. The more the area goes without cleaning, the worse the breath.

So it could be this is the source of your hubby’s problem, but there is one other area where the halitosis could be originating. You mentioned he’s a burper, so this could be part of the problem.

The Stomach.

Bad breath from something we’ve eaten makes sense—eat something smelly, and it’s likely to upset our stomachs enough to revisit us via belching. Not a great smell for anyone involved, to be sure.

There are other stomach factors that can contribute to foul-smelling breath as well. GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) can do a number on our breath. With heartburn or acid reflux, there is a strong chance that what goes down will come up in the form of unpleasant smelling gas.

You mentioned your man drinks a lot of coffee. Coffee is a notoriously harsh on the stomach. He may wish to switch to tea for awhile and see if it makes a difference.

A few cures for bad breath.

Assuming he hasn’t tried much more than gargling and brushing, here are a few possible solutions for bad breath:

Eat more fiber. Fruits and vegetables help clear out the bacteria. They also serve to moisten the mouth—dry mouth can also be a cause of halitosis.

Eliminate dairy products. If you haven’t already, eliminate lactose from your diet. Adult humans do not need milk. In fact, the rise in lactose intolerance is one way our bodies are saying they don’t need, want and can’t tolerate milk. Milk and dairy also cause a rise in phlegm production, which is a cause of bad breath.

Brush with baking soda and turmeric. A great combo—make a paste and use it like toothpaste. Baking soda neutralizes acid and turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.

Try Oil Pulling. This is a new one for me, and I’m so glad I found it. Use coconut oil—it’s the “It Oil” for 2016, for good reason. Coconut oil balances blood sugar, increases “good” HDL cholesterol levels while lowering LDL levels, balances hormones, destroys Candida, and I believe it also makes you immortal—or something.

Anyway, here’s how to oil pull:

  1. Take 1-2 Tablespoons of coconut oil by mouth.
  2. Swish it around gently for 10-20 minutes.
  3. 10-20  minutes? Are you nuts, woman?
  4. Okay, start out at 1-2 minutes and build up to at least 10.
  5. Spit the oil out into a bag or the garbage so your sink won’t get plugged. (You’re welcome.)
  6. Rinse with warm water. Adding salt is a good idea, as it helps destroy bacteria.
  7. Conclude by brushing your teeth as you normally would.

The Real Issue.

Of course, bad breath is the surface issue. The deeper issue is the lack of intimacy because of it.

It sounds like you’ve done an excellent job of gently alerting your husband to the fact that his breath isn’t pleasant. No one likes to hear something about him is off-putting, which is likely why he’s reacting with hurt and sulking rather than racing to the mouthwash.

If we three were face-to-face, I’d ask if there might be some other area of discomfort between you that has resulted in your communication breaking down, like so many food proteins in the mouth. To carry the analogy further—the excellence your marriage seems to possess is much like the perfect symbiosis between mouth bacteria and the protein it destroys. You have a good thing going. But there may be some excretion—some tossed-away comment or feeling—that’s been left to rot, causing decay.

After 10 years of marriage, this is likely a natural thing to have happened at least once (or a dozen) times! Not to worry.

Your communication with your husband seems to be quite healthy. Perhaps you can ask him how he wishes you to approach the subject of bad breath when it comes up. Alternately, you can offer your desire to kiss him deeply once again. Perhaps expressing your desire to be close will remind him of how attractive he is to you. Everyone needs that spirit-boost once in a while.

Whatever you choose, be sure to arrive at the conversation from a place of love. You sing his praises so beautifully—maybe it will help him to hear them as well.

Happy loving!


Author: Rachel Astarte

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Cristina Souza

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