Do people at the office politely keep their distance whenever you speak? Does your loved one seem distracted when you want to cuddle? You might have bad breath, and it’s quite possible they’re afraid to tell you. Foul breath is a sensitive subject, one that many people try to avoid. But to all those with stinky breath, come out of the closet! (and we might mean that literally). There are obvious causes of halitosis, and there are also some straightforward ways to combat it.
What is Halitosis?
Halitosis, known more commonly as bad breath, is an unpleasant odor that comes from your mouth. It’s primarily caused by bacteria that have taken up residence there, especially on the back of your tongue. It’s warm, moist and cozy in your mouth — the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. The dreaded “morning mouth” is quite common, due to the many hours without brushing or saliva. This is especially true if you’re accustomed to dry mouth. What happens is that dead cells will stick to the insides of the mouth and tongue, and bacteria feeds on that to produce odor. Bad breath can also be caused by insufficient brushing, rinsing and flossing; a mouth infection (such as a cavity or gum disease); an illness or an external source like onions, garlic, tobacco or coffee.
How to Cure Bad Breath
Yes, you can get rid of bad breath. The first line of defense is to practice healthy dental hygiene. This means brushing your teeth and flossing after meals, to ensure that you wash away any food debris. If you can’t always brush, at least rinse, even if it’s just with water. And don’t forget the tongue! Your poor tongue is often neglected in your brushing regimen, and it may be a busy bacteria motel, housing all sorts of nasty critters. If you want to ensure that you do a really good job of cleaning your tongue, invest in a tongue scraper. According to the National Institutes of Health, using a tongue scraper can decrease volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) by as much as 75 percent.
Other Tips for Fighting Bad Breath
Here are some easy ways to get rid of bad breath:
- Brush twice a day and floss once a day
- Floss before bedtime to prevent morning breath
- Gargle with warm salt water to remove bacteria
- Use acid blockers to combat acid reflux
- Limit onion and garlic; brush, floss and rinse when you do eat these foods
- Drink plenty of water to prevent a dry mouth
- Address any infections or illnesses and see your doctor
- Stop using cigarettes and other tobacco products
- Get your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist every six months
How Sweet It Is
Having bad breath is nothing to be ashamed of. There are many possible culprits, especially for those who regularly snack during the day. But there are fast and easy ways to keep bacteria away, so that you (and your friends, family and co-workers) can enjoy your fresh, sweet-smelling breath!
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