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    Bad Breath: Causes and Cures

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    CAUSE: Infection. Bad breath can be a good thing if it lets you know you have a sinus infection, Ishman says.
    CURE: Open your sinuses. Treat congestion and postnasal drip with saline spray, allergy treatments, extra fluids, or nasal steroids. Ishman suggests antibiotics for bacterial and chronic sinus infections. But, she says, sinus problems are caused by viruses not treated with antibiotics. If your child has bad breath and one runny nostril, have her doctor check to see if she stuffed an object up her nose.

    CAUSE: Dry mouth. Dry mouth can foul your breath. Why? Saliva's job is to clean debris and bacteria from your mouth. If you don't make enough, many things could be to blame -- too much caffeine, a stuffy nose that turns you into a mouth-breather, medications like antihistamines, or even a fairly rare disease called Sjogren's syndrome, which dries up moist places all over your body.CURE: Drink water and make some spit. Stay hydrated so you your mouth's built-in cleaning system works. Chew sugar-free gum or suck sugar-free candies to help. Check with your doctor about medication for that stuffy nose or for artificial saliva products.

    CAUSE: Unhealthy mouth. Cavities and gum disease can create an awful stink. Cure: Oral hygiene. See your dentist at least every six months for a teeth cleaning and exam, Romo says. Brush, floss, and use a fluoride mouth rinse with the American Dental Association's seal. Rinses that have alcohol can dry your mouth.

    CAUSE: Tobacco. Chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe can leave a nasty taste -- and smell -- in your mouth. Users are also prone to gum disease -- another cause of bad breath.
    CURE: Quit. The best option for your breath and your overall health is to stop using any tobacco product. Keep up with oral hygiene while you kick the habit: Brush, floss, rinse, drink plenty of water, or chew sugar-free gum.

    CAUSE: Chronic health problem. Sometimes bad breath is a sign of a more serious problem, like an infection, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, or kidney or liver disease.
    CURE: Get treated. If none of the at-home tips help with your bad breath, see your doctor so she can test you for other more serious causes.

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    Reviewed on December 15, 2015

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    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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