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You only have one chance to make a good first impression. You want people to remember your confidence and smarts -- not your breath. 

Bad breath (halitosis) has many causes. But lucky for you it has even more solutions.

CAUSE: Bacteria that breed inside your mouth. These little bugs lurk between your teeth and cover your tongue. When they get stuck in one place, they multiply and give off stinky odors.

CURE: Brush and floss. Genaro Romo, DDS, says to brush your teeth -- and tongue -- twice a day for at least 2 minutes. Floss once a day. Use a fluoride toothpaste. An inexpensive tongue scraper will also remove smelly bacteria [.

CAUSE: Tonsil stones. Your tonsils are full of little pits and pockets that collect bacteria and mucus until a cheese-like substance hardens into a "stone." These nuggets stink and cause bad breath and a nasty taste in your mouth.

CURE: Remove and prevent. A water flosser can help get rid of debris before it turns into a stone or flush stones out once they start,says Stacey Ishman, MD, surgical director for the Upper Airway Center at Cincinnati Children's Medical Center.You can also gently remove the stones with a cotton swab or even your toothbrush. Once you get them out, the trick is to prevent more from forming. Gargle with warm salt water to clear the bacteria and mucus from the crypts before stones can form. If you have tonsillitis and stones often, your best bet may be to have your tonsils surgically removed.

CAUSE: Tummy troubles. Sometimes GI problems like reflux or an ulcer can cause foul smells when you burp and release gas.

CURE: Antacids. Over-the-counter antacids or acid blockers may ease a sour or acidic stomach. If you're lactose intolerant and have GI problems, try lactase tablets. Eating yogurt or taking probiotics can boost the good bacteria in your gut and may get your mouth in better shape.

CAUSE: Smelly food. Onion, garlic, and some spices can cause bad breath. The odor lingers while food particles stay in your mouth, but these foods give you a double-whammy. Once they make it through your system, their stinky chemicals travel through your bloodstream to the lungs where you breathe them out.

CURE: Brush and floss. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing will loosen hidden food bits and prevent odor-causing bacteria from multiplying. If that doesn't help, limit the amount of garlic and onion you eat or skip them unless they're cooked.

Tips for Pretty Teeth and Gums

See how to keep your teeth healthy, white, and even.
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