How bad is it to have bad breath?
If you've been around someone else with it…
you know how bad.
Bad breath isn't just poor grooming –
it's poor manners.
It's so gross it makes you unpleasant to be around.
And yet it happens to most people – sometimes at exactly the wrong moment (what's the common theme of every less-than-storybook first kiss you've ever heard about? Exactly).
The good news: bad breath is very preventable.
Take a few basic steps and you can ensure that bad breath won't catch you off guard.
If you've ever had “morning breath,” you've experienced one of the most common causes of bad breath – dehydration.
Overnight, saliva production slows down. That means your mouth is dryer than usual and some of the cells on your tongue will die and be broken down by bacteria. The process creates an unpleasant odor that leads to bad breath.
This is easy to counter – just make sure you drink enough water (which you should be doing anyway) and hydrate as soon as you wake up. Keeping a humidifier on while you sleep will also help.
2) Cut Down On Sugar
Everyone's mouth contains bacteria. It's unavoidable and it's not all bad. But your mouth is an ecosystem. If it becomes unbalanced, bacteria can grow out of control and lead to plaque, tooth decay, and bad breath.
The number one cause of excessive bacteria growth is too much sugar. The bacteria feed on sugar and secrete acid, which smells musty and is associated with plaque and cavities.
Your saliva naturally neutralizes these acids, so if you notice your mouth is dry or your breath smells rank (lick your wrist, wait ten seconds, and sniff – in private of course – to smell how your breath smells to other people) one of the best solutions is to chew sugar-free gum. It stimulates the production of saliva without providing extra food for bacteria.
3) Brush Your Teeth Correctly
Obvious, right? But if you're brushing twice a day and still have issues with halitosis, you may need to improve your technique.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing at a forty-five-degree angle to your gums (most germs that cause bad breath hang out where your gums meet your teeth) for two full minutes.
Make sure to get all sides of your teeth and take a few vertical strokes in between your front teeth. Make it a conscious habit instead of rushing through it. It won't just improve your breath, but your overall health.
4) Scrape Your Tongue
Some experience bad breath despite good dental hygiene – due to smoking, an infection, or as a side effect of a medication. These types of bad breath will often come with a coated tongue – that is, your tongue will exhibit a film of dead cells and bacteria.
In these cases, a tongue scraper can be a quick fix. It won't solve the problem permanently, but if you need to improve the smell of your breath fast it can be a life saver.
It's the advice everybody gets and few follow: you really should floss once a day. Chronic bad breath can be cleared up entirely with regular flossing – which removes the buildup of smelly food particles from between your teeth.
As with many health issues, the only “miracle cure” is consistent healthy habits.
6) Use The Right Mouthwash
Mouthwash helps get rid of bad breath, right? Short-term, yes. But things look a little different long-term. Common alcohol-based mouthwashes can be extremely drying – leading to stronger odors from the bacteria in your mouth.
This doesn't mean you're off the hook to skip mouthwash. Look for an alcohol-free mouthwash with ingredients like menthol, eucalyptol or thymol instead. Mouthwash is most effective when used fifteen minutes after brushing.
7) Time Your Cleaning
It can be tempting to brush your teeth first thing, have a cup of coffee and grab breakfast on the way to work – but this cancels the benefits of brushing when it comes to your breath.
Whenever possible, brush your teeth shortly after meals. Microscopic particles of food are a top culprit when it comes to bad breath.
8) Pay Attention To Your Diet
Most of us know not to order the garlic and onion flatbread on a first date. But there also might be sneakier causes of bad breath lurking in your diet.
Coffee with cream and sugar, for example, is a triple whammy – sugar (bacteria food), dairy (which tends to linger in the mouth and smell sour), and compounds that can leave your mouth dry and your stomach acid churning. Green tea is a much more effective caffeine fix for big days at the office – it's naturally anti-bacterial.
Cinnamon contains similar properties and is delicious as a flavoring in tea or cereal. Eating crisp vegetables and fruits such as celery or apples helps your mouth stay clean by scrubbing debris from your teeth and stimulating saliva production.
9) Keep Your Gums Healthy
Periodontal or gum disease can cause the gums to recede away from the teeth, making more space for bacteria, dead cells, and old food particles to congregate. This leads almost inevitably to bad breath.
If you suspect gum disease is the cause of your bad breath (if your gums feel loose or look inflamed, this is quite possible) make an appointment with your dentist. They should be able to recommend treatment or a specialist.
10) Quit Smoking
Tobacco use ups your risk for almost all the bad-breath-causing conditions mentioned here. In addition, most commercial tobacco products contain dozens of aromatic hydrocarbons – substances that linger in your saliva and cause the stale or pungent odors associated specifically with “smokers' breath.”
Maintaining a healthy oral ecosystem through good hygiene and diet helps of course, but the only sure way to kick bad breath if you're a tobacco user is to quit. Talk to your doctor to get help breaking the habit – better breath will be one of the many benefits you'll enjoy.
One way to help yourself quit smoking? Chewing gum. CONFADENT is the only gum that fights germs to protect your teeth and gums. It gives you fresh breath and whitens your teeth too. Chew CONFADENT after drinking black coffee or red wine.