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What You Can Do About Bad Breath

Do you have bad breath? You are not alone. Forty million Americans suffer from bad breath on occasion, according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be an embarrassment and an impediment to your social life. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to freshen your breath.

Brush and floss
One of the main causes of bad breath is plaque, the sticky build-up on teeth that harbors bacteria. Food left between teeth adds to the problem. All of us should brush at least twice a day and floss daily. If you’re worried about your breath, brush and floss a little more often. But don’t overdo it. Brushing too aggressively can erode enamel, which makes your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.

Scrape your Tongue
The coating that normally forms on the tongue can also contain unpleasant-smelling bacteria. To eliminate them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush. Some people find that toothbrushes are too big to comfortably reach the back of the tongue. In that case, try a tongue scraper. They’re designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area, removing bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can’t remove.

Avoid Offensive Food
Onions and garlic are the prime offenders. Unfortunately, brushing after you eat onions or garlic doesn’t help. The volatile substances they contain make their way into your blood stream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out. The only way to avoid the problem is to avoid eating onions and garlic, especially before social or work occasions when you’re concerned about your breath.

Kick the Habit
Bad breath is just one of many reasons not to smoke. Smoking damages gum tissue and stains teeth. It also increases your risk of oral cancer. Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge to smoke.

Rinse Your Mouth
In addition to freshening your breath, anti-bacterial mouthwashes add extra protection by reducing plaque-causing bacteria. If you don’t have access to mouthwash after eating, swish your mouth with plain water to help freshen your breath and eliminate food particles.

Chew Gum
A stick of sugarless gum will promote saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense mechanism against plaque acids. These acids cause bad breath, as well as tooth decay. Avoid sugary candy, which promotes the growth of bacteria in your mouth and adds to bad breath problems.