4 tips to battle bad breath
Although good dental hygiene can help prevent bad breath, regular visits to the dentist are a must to rule out bigger problems. (Photo by Katie Jaciewicz)
Do you worry that your breath could be considered a weapon of mass destruction? Are you afraid that a green fog precedes you when you enter the room? Don’t worry, you're not alone.
Bad breath, or halitosis, is a very common complaint among people of all ages, nationalities, religions and shoe sizes. Here are a few quick tips to make sure your breath is as fresh as the driven snow…or at least not so funky that it peels paint off of the walls.
Visit the dentist
If recurring bad breath is a problem, it’s important that you make sure it’s not caused by a more ominous issue such as dental decay or gum infection. Routine visits to your dentist make sure any problems can be caught early. It also helps keep your plaque and tartar buildup at bay, and you get to catch up on all the latest gossip from your hygienist about the Kardashians and who’s dating which celebrity in Hollywood.
Hygiene is the key
Your armpits wouldn’t smell very good if you only bathed once a month, would they? The same hygiene rules apply to your mouth. Brush for two minutes twice a day and floss once a day to keep that gross bacteria off your teeth. After all, plaque is just bacteria eating up leftover food particles and pooping out sulfur compounds all over your mouth. No wonder we get bad breath! Brushing and flossing reduce that stinky plaque and lower your risk of dental disease. And don’t forget to brush your tongue.
Make sure your health isn’t the problem
If your mouth is as clean as Martha Stewart's jail cell and you're still having issues with bad breath, bigger problems may be at work. Sinus infections, gastric reflux, diabetes and chronic systemic infections can all play a role in how your breath smells. If you're doing everything you can to keep your mouth clean and healthy and there are still odor issues, make sure you're up to date on your annual physical as well.
If you're taking prescription medication, you may also suffer from xerostomia, or dry mouth. When your mouth is dry, the bacteria in your mouth throw a party like it’s 1999 and can really ramp up the bad breath. That’s why when you wake up in the morning your mouth feels like a swamp and gives you that morning breath we have all grown so fond of.
Watch what you eat
Having a healthy diet isn’t just important to make sure you can fit into your pants without having to call EMS for help. We all know about the obvious things that can make your breath smelly like garlic and onions, but what about the not so obvious things. Diets high in protein can also play a role. Proteins can take a while to digest and hang around the nooks and crannies of your mouth, giving bacteria an all you can eat buffet. Some foods like green tea and cinnamon can help, and fragrant foods like cilantro, dill, parsley, mint and others can help mask offending odors. Also make sure you consume enough water each day. It’s healthy, keeps your mouth moist and can rinse away some of those food particles that are sticking around.
These tips can help make your bad breath a thing of the past, but remember, it's always best to discuss any questions or ongoing oral issues with a dental health professional to rule out any big problems that may be lurking around the corner. Keeping your mouth fresh and clean not only makes a happy healthy mouth, but it keeps your social life happy and healthy, too.
About this Angie’s List Expert: Dr. Shane Ricci of Texas Dental in Plano, Texas, received his BS in biology and biochemistry with magna cum laude honors from West Texas A&M University. He then obtained his DDS degree with honors at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, one of the top dental schools in the country.
As of March 25, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.