Have you ever been in a packed crowd when suddenly, the stranger beside you breathes in your face—and you wrinkle your nose at the bad odor?
We all know that halitosis—commonly known as bad breath—exists, but we avoid it at all costs. Also, we never, ever think we could have it ourselves.
Eighty-five percent of us will suffer from halitosis sometime, so it’s smart to wise up about it. But because bad breath is relatively easy to prevent, it makes sense to first focus on the prevention rather than the cure.
KEYS TO FRESH BREATH
Since halitosis feeds mainly on bacteria, the key ingredient in prevention is excellent oral hygiene. So if you want your breath to stay sweet, keep the following dental tips in mind:
- Get regular dental checkups and cleanings, preferably twice a year.
Only your dentist can determine if you have an underlying dental condition–such as tooth decay—that might contribute to halitosis. Your dental hygienist will remove any buildup of tartar that could cause bad breath. If you experience tartar buildup quickly, you should see your hygienist for a cleaning every three months.
- Brush and floss daily to remove food particles trapped between teeth or in your gum line. Add mouthwash to your morning routine.
Residual food fragments help cause bad breath. For this reason, remember to brush after a heavy meal, no matter when it occurs. Today, there are many mini-dental products on the market, including mouthwash. Pack them in your bag or briefcase and use them at work. The more you brush, the fresher your breath.
- Clean your tongue, especially towards the back, to remove bacteria.
Scientists know that the tongue is home to some pungent bacteria, so use your toothbrush to sweep your tongue gently. For a better scrubbing, try a tongue-cleaner. Mouthwash also works.
- Keep hydrated during the day.
Many of us wake up with “morning breath” and know we shouldn’t kiss anyone until we’ve brushed our teeth. What we may not realize is that a better term for morning breath is “dry mouth”, due to less saliva produced while we are asleep. Saliva is a natural mouthwash: it is anti-bacterial and washes away food particles. A dry mouth—whether at midnight or noon—can quickly cause unpleasant breath. Get rid of it by brushing your teeth, cleaning your tongue, and swishing with mouthwash. During the day, keep hydrated to encourage salivation. When you are congested, you will often find yourself with a dry, crusty mouth, so remember to take extra steps to sweeten your breath.
- Rinse your mouth with tap water after drinking and eating.
A simple and easy step. Water washes away food particles and helps restore the pH levels in your mouth to a healthy concentration.
- Avoid spicy foods, sodas, coffee, and alcohol.
Garlic, onions, and your spicy cuisine of choice can stay on the menu, but be aware they can create bad breath. Try limiting smoking, coffee, sodas and alcohol, and make sure to rinse your mouth after drinking any liquids. Out for a night on the town? Take along emergency breath-busters such as gum, breath mints or dissolving breath strips.
- Quit smoking.
Smoking encourages plaque buildup, which breeds the bacteria that cause unpleasant breath. Also, smoking contributes to a dry mouth. Less saliva equals halitosis. Finally, smokers are much more likely to suffer foul-smelling oral infections and disease than non-smokers are.
- Look for natural breath fresheners.
Green tea, cinnamon sticks, parsley, mint, and dill are some of nature’s cures for bad breath. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit not only sweeten your breath, but also kill oral bacteria. In addition, crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as celery or apples, help remove trapped food and encourage salivation.
- See your physician.
Halitosis is linked to stress, diabetes, stomach problems, sinusitis, and bronchitis. If your bad breath simply won’t quit, you may have an undiagnosed medical problem.