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    Bad Breath: Good and Bad Foods

    A combination of diet and dental hygiene is the best defense against bad breath.

    Foods and Drinks That Make Your Breath Smell Good continued...

    Fruits and vegetables . Foods rich in vitamin C, such as red bell pepper and broccoli, create an inhospitable environment for mouth bacteria. They work even better to fight bad breath when eaten raw, as crunchy produce of any kind is mechanically abrasive and helps to loosen trapped food particles.

    Yogurt: Japanese researchers found that eating about 3 ounces of sugar-free yogurt with probiotic (good) bacteria twice a day for six weeks reduced bad breath by helping to lower the levels of odor-causing sulfide compounds. To best mimic the study's effects, eat yogurt that supplies strains of streptococci and lactobacilli bacteria.

    "Fortified yogurt is also great source of vitamin D, which helps reduce mouth bacteria," Mallonee tells WebMD. Other sources of vitamin D include fortified milk and orange juice, salmon, and eggs.

    Herbs and spices. Parsley contains chlorophyll, which may have a deodorizing effect in the mouth. Other plant products linked to better breath include cloves, anise, and fennel seeds. While employing herbs and spices to mitigate bad breath is rooted more in folklore than science, it doesn't hurt to try.

    Why Your Breath Gets Stinky

    The most common cause of bad breath isn't a smelly food. It's bacteria in your mouth.

    “The microbes that reside in your mouth feast on food particles and dead cells, producing sulfur compounds that cause halitosis,” Harper Mallonee says.

    Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss once to remove the debris that results in bad breath, the American Dental Association advises.

    “It’s also important to clean your tongue,” says Vankevich.

    Masking mouth bacteria with rinses is a temporary solution to bad breath, one that Vankevich discourages. Over-the-counter rinses contain often alcohol, which dries out mouth tissues, decreases saliva production, and worsens bad breath in the long run.

    Bad Breath Can Signal Medical Conditions

    If your dental hygiene and your diet are in order, but your halitosis won't quit, it may be time to consult a doctor or dentist.

    Bad breath can result from certain health conditions.

    Blocked sinus passages and post-nasal drip may result in bad breath that will eventually pass. But Vankevich warns that persistent halitosis can be a sign of something bigger.

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    You are currently

    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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