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Out with the Bad, In with the Good
Help the world smell a lot sweeter by applying these tips to prevent and treat bad breath:
Drink plenty of water. A moist mouth is inhospitable to the bacteria responsible for bad breath. Water also dilutes the concentration of VSCs, making them weaker and less pungent.
Brush and floss regularly. Brush and floss as soon as possible after meals to minimize the amount of bacteria in your mouth. Buy a tongue scraper (about $3) to reduce the amount of bacteria even more.
Treat any existing oral diseases. See your dentist regularly, especially if you suspect any type of oral disease, periodontal problem or infection.
Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables. Chewing apples, celery and cucumber helps keep your mouth naturally clean by removing food particles and plaque while you eat. They also increase saliva flow to keep your mouth moist.
Cut out coffee. Coffee leaves a film on your tongue that blocks oxygen, creating the perfect environment for bacteria growth. Switch to tea if you need a caffeine fix.
Chew sugarless gum. Chewing gum will help keep your mouth moist and increase saliva flow. Because the bacteria in your mouth easily break down most sugars into VSCs, choose sugarless gum and say no to mints that contain sugar.
Eat yogurt. Some research shows that eating one serving of yogurt daily can reduce the amount of odor-causing particles, including bacteria, in the mouth.
Get your vitamins. Vitamin D creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria. Enjoy plenty of vitamin D-fortified foods (such as milk and other dairy products). Vitamin C (found in berries melons and citrus fruit) also makes your mouth inhospitable to bacteria, but can also help prevent two other causes of bad breath—gum disease and gingivitis.
Avoid tobacco products. Any kind of tobacco (smoked or chewed) can cause bad breath and a host of oral health problems and diseases.
Avoid trigger foods. Onions and garlic are two well-known causes of bad breath.
Check your medicine cabinet. Bad breath is often a side effect of both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Take them as directed, and unless otherwise instructed, drink plenty of water along with your medication.
It can also be caused by certain oral conditions such as mouth cancer, candidiasis (thrush or fungal overgrowth) and dry mouth (xerostomia). Postnasal drip, sinus infections and gastrointestinal diseases can also cause bad breath. If your bad breath cannot be treated with proper oral hygiene, visit your health care provider to find out if you are suffering from an underlying health condition.
Although bad breath happens to the best of us, it's an embarrassing topic for many. No one enjoys being told their breath stinks, and it's equally (if not more) difficult to tell someone else that they need a mint. Once the awkwardness wears off, you can feel happy that someone you know cared enough to tell you honestly so that you can prevent and treat it. Put your best breath forward!
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