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Avoid 6 Health Woes That Ruin a Date

Experts offer tips on preventing embarrassing problems that can derail a promising relationship.

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

You've landed the date of your dreams. Now what? You've got to do more than primp to avoid being branded a one-date dud. You also must squelch those potential date "bombs" -- minor, but embarrassing, health problems. From bad breath to allergiesallergies, here's a look at the worst offenders and how you can ensure they won't make your date ditch you.

Bad Breath

There's nothing like dragon breath to scare off a first date. Ninety percent of the time, the culprit is thriving right on the surface of your tongue, says Richard Price, DDS, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association. "The dirtier your mouth, the more places there are for bacteria to hide," he says.

But having a clean mouth doesn't necessarily preclude you from bad breath. "Even in the healthiest of mouths, you can still suffer from it," Price tells WebMD. The combination of lingering bacteria on the tongue, when "caught" in the sticky mucus we produce -- up to two quarts per day -- is prime fodder for bad breath. "The bacteria get covered with mucus, expelling by-products when you breathe," Price explains.

So how do you fight bad breath? "You've got to physically remove the offending organism," Price says.

One effective, low-tech way is to scrape the mouth with a toothbrush or tongue scraper, a piece of metal that Price likens to an Emory board. "In some countries, tongue scraping is considered part of everyday hygiene," Price tells WebMD.

He also recommends using toothpaste that contains an antibacterial agent, such as chlorine dioxide.

Flossing regularly to remove old food lodged between teeth is another must. It doesn't smell good in the Dumpster; nor does it smell good in your mouth.

Maintaining an adequate amount of moisture in the mouth also helps. Price suggests using a humidifier in the winter, drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day, or munching on an apple, a solution he calls "better than a Bianca blast." The less moisture in the mouth, Price explains, the more bad-smelling vapors the bacteria release into the mouth.

Also, consider what you put in your mouth. "If it smells going in, it's probably going to smell going out," Price says. Prime offenders include garlic, tobacco, and onions.

Dealing With Sweat

You'll never get a goodnight kiss if your shirt's soaked with sweat and you smell like a locker room. That's bad news for those who start dripping with sweat the minute their anxiety level shoots up. The good news is this: There are a lot of effective ways to prevent an onslaught of sweat from turning you into a stink bomb.

What works, and what doesn't? "Showering lowers bacteria temporarily. Deodorants lower bacterial counts for up to a day," says Gabe Mirkin, MD, a practicing physician in the Washington, D.C. area. The role of diet remains an area of controversy. "Greasy, fried foods are thought by some to promote body odor, but the results have proven inconclusive."

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