How to combat bad breath

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Bad breath can be awfully embarrassing. It can make us self conscious, avoid speaking to people in close proximity, or even avoid people in general! No, I am not talking about the bad breath you get straight after a tuna sandwich with extra onion, but more the bad breath that does not seem to go away even after you brush your teeth. The bad breath that is there all day every day. This is what we dentists call chronic halitosis. In order to learn how to get rid of bad breath, we need to understand how and why it is caused.

More than 80 million people suffer from chronic halitosis, or bad breath and in 90% of cases, it originates from the gums and tongue. Here are the main causes:

1) POOR ORAL HYGIENE: When we eat, food gets stuck in our teeth. When we do not brush our teeth, this food stays and matures to produce bacteria. Bacteria can grow on these bits of food and release foul smelling sulphur releasing compounds (yuck!).

2) DEHYDRATION/DRY MOUTH: If you suffer from a dry mouth, you do not have enough saliva to wash away food particles and bacteria.

3) INFECTION: If you think you have an infection in your ears, nose, throat or mouth, it often gives you a bad taste and smell in the mouth. If you think you have an infection and have a bad taste too, go to your doctor to rule out any infections.

4) SMOKING: Smoking not only drys your mouth away, but also attracts bacteria. If you are concerned about your bad breath, it is worth considering quitting smoking.

5) FOOD: If you are impartial to a bit of onion or garlic, you should understand that once you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and affect your breath. This is both short term (straight after your meal) and long term (the next morning).

What You'll Need

  • Citrus fruit such as a slice of orange or lemon
  • A fresh sprig of parsley, basil, rosemary or mint.

What You'll Do

  • Brush brush brush! Make sure you are brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes. This will help to manually remove any of that smelly bacteria or food from your mouth. Also give your tongue a good scrub to remove any lingering bacteria from the tongue too. You can either use a toothbrush or a tongue scraper for that.
  • Hydrate yourself! Make sure to keep your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding smoking or caffeine.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking drys your mouth further and can exacerbate any bad breath you have.
  • Chew sugar free gum. This stimulates your mouth to produce more saliva and wash away any bacteria present.
  • Change your toothbrush every 2-3 months. If your brush has seen better days, it may actually not be very efficient at removing bacteria from your mouth anymore.
  • Have a slice of a citrus fruit such as an orange or a lemon. The sourness activates your salivary glands in your mouth and makes you produce more saliva. This will help wash away all the bugs.
  • Chew a fresh piece of parsley, basil, rosemary or mint. The chlorophyll in these green herbs neutralises the odours.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are so many contributing factors to bad breath and I have only lightly touched on a few. If you need help determining what is the cause of your bad breath, visit your dentist to see what they think!
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