Have you ever been having a nice conversation with someone, only to get closer and get hit by a wall of bad breath? There are few things as unattractive and unappealing as foul breath, and if you’re the one with it, it can be embarrassing. How can you get rid of it?
Let’s say that you’ve just found that you have chronic bad breath. Breath mints and gum help in a pinch, but you want a more long-term fix. What can you do to keep your breath pleasant?
1. Brush & Floss Regularly
While this isn’t necessarily something you can do while out on the town, brushing and flossing your teeth is essential to good oral hygiene and preventing and relieving bad breath. The most common cause of bad breath is the increase of bacteria in the mouth, which can happen when food particles break down in the mouth. By brushing your teeth regularly (the American Dental Association recommends twice a day) you can remove the particles before they contribute to this foul smelling bacteria. Just be sure you’re brushing your teeth correctly to have it be as effective as possible. Then, follow up with flossing! Flossing, something a lot of Americans don’t do enough of (daily is what’s recommended), removes the particles and bacteria between teeth better than many toothbrushes.
2. Brush Your Tongue
Besides in between your teeth, another oft-forgotten area of the mouth you should clean is your tongue. Over time, bacteria and food particles can build up on the tongue. This can be especially true for the back of the tongue, where it can be difficult to clean. With this buildup, the causes of bad breath can linger even if you brush your teeth every day. Every time you brush your teeth, clean your tongue as well by lightly scrubbing as thoroughly as you can. A tongue scraper (which is not as scary as it sounds, we promise) can also be effective for deep cleaning.
3. Avoid Certain Foods
There are also a few ways you can prevent bad breath beyond properly cleaning your teeth and tongue. One of these is to avoid eating foods that cause bad breath. You can certainly indulge in any of these, just do so in moderation to prevent your breath from going foul. Foods like coffee, peanut butter, and cheeses can all cause bad breath, though you may be fine if you rinse your mouth out after consuming them. A bigger problem comes with consuming ingredients like garlic and onions, which have sulfuric compounds that can enter the bloodstream and make their way to your lungs. This can sour your breath even if you brush. Listen, we’re not going to tell you to stop eating garlic, but by moderating how much you eat, you can mitigate some of the bad breath risks.
4. Quit Tobacco
As if you needed another reason to quit smoking, here’s a new one. Tobacco, smoking it specifically, is a double whammy when it comes to causing bad breath. Tobacco products stain your teeth and leave their scent behind in your mouth. This acrid, smoky smell is strong on its own, but also can grow worse when mixed with other causes of bad breath. Smoking can also cause dry mouth, a condition that can further lead to bad breath. Saliva washes away food and bacteria and neutralizes acids that can cause bad breath. Without this moisture, the bacteria and acid are left to their own, smelly devices. So, smoking can make your mouth smell bad and remove your mouth’s method of removing that bad smell.
We just discussed how saliva helps prevent bad breath. Well, water can help prevent and relieve acrid breath in the same way. It, too, alleviates dry mouth by moisturizing your mouth, and it actually helps create saliva. This is why morning breath is a thing — you haven’t had anything to drink for a while, so your mouth is likely dehydrated. Also, you have all those food particles waiting to be washed out of your mouth. For this, and many other reasons, it’s a good idea to stay hydrated throughout the day.
6. Green Tea with Mint
Drinking green tea with mint in it is a simple trick that has three ways that it can help you deodorize your breath. First, it can help moisturize your mouth, preventing dry mouth. (This is true of most things you can drink.) But what takes this further than most drinks are the other two effects. One, green tea may be effective at fighting the sulfuric compounds that cause bad breath. And two, it may even inhibit the growth of bacteria and cleanse your breath, giving it a fresher scent faster. Mint can also help freshen your breath, though not in the form you’re thinking. Dinner mints have sugar in them, which can actually feed the bacteria and help them grow. Instead, think fresh mint leaves (like the kind that would season this green tea), which cover the smell of stinky breath.
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If all else fails, you can always visit your dentist to discuss your options for treating bad breath. Persistent bad breath can be a sign of several underlying conditions and a dentist may be able to help you to narrow down the cause. Otherwise, there are plenty of ways you can both prevent and cover up bad breath, allowing you to breathe easy when you’re talking with friends and family!