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Change Your Breath From Bad to Good

Got bad breath? Here's how to make it better.
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See Your Dentist, Brush Your Teeth continued...

Good oral hygiene also is key to fighting bad breath. Ideally, you should brush and floss after every meal to help reduce the odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. While a regular toothbrush works just as well if you use it as recommended, Frangella recommends using an electric toothbrush, for two reasons.

"First, because many electric toothbrushes have timers on them and the majority of people do not brush their teeth for the right length of time. And secondly, because electric toothbrushes distribute a uniform motion, which I find helps remove plaque more efficiently than when my patients use manual toothbrushes." 

Some mouthwashes or mouth rinses can help prevent cavities and reduce bacteria-causing plaque and fight bad breath. Stick to an antiseptic or antibacterial rinse that kills bacteria, rather than a cosmetic rinse that just focuses on freshening the breath.

Watch What You Eat

What you eat affects what you exhale. That's because as food is digested, it's absorbed into your bloodstream and then is expelled by your lungs when you breathe.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet and regular meals. Certain diets -- such as extreme fasting and very low-carb diets -- can give you bad-smelling breath.

Consider snacking on raw carrots, celery, or apple slices. "It's good to have a nice watery vegetable in there - something like celery - that will help clear your mouth of debris," Frangella says.

Avoid breath busters such as garlic, onions, and some other spicy foods. Chronic garlic users cannot only have chronic bad breath, they also often have body odor, Woodall says.

Six More Ways to Fix Bad Breath

Here are a half dozen more ways to banish bad breath - hopefully for good.

  • Stay hydrated. If you can't brush your teeth after a meal, drinking a lot of water can help speed up the process of cleaning harmful bacteria and debris from between your teeth. Drinking milk can even help deodorize some offensive breath odors, Frangella says. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Don't drink too much coffee. It may be tasty, but coffee is a tough smell to get off the back of your tongue. Consider switching to an herbal or green tea, Frangella says.
  • Don't smoke or use other tobacco products. Cigarettes, pipes, and snuff can foul your breath. "Smoking can give people horrible breath," Woodall says. "And some people carry this stuff worse than others."
  • Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol can lead to a dry mouth. Too much beer, wine, and hard liquor can make your breath reek for up to eight to 10 hours after you finish drinking, Woodall says.
  • Chew sugarless gum. Doing so 20 minutes after a meal can help with saliva flow. Gum that's 100% xylitol-sweetened can help reduce cavities, but it's also "kind of cooling and gives you really nice fresh breath," Frangella says.
  • Be careful with breath mints. Sugar-free mints are OK for a quick fix but only mask the offensive smell and don't do anything to remove harmful bad bacteria. Tempted to pick up a sugary mint as you leave your favorite restaurant? Don't. The sugar will only sit on your teeth and make the problem worse, Frangella says.
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Reviewed on February 21, 2012
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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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