At best, it’s a nuisance and an embarrassment. At worst, it signals an underlying health condition. Halitosis– more commonly known as bad breath– is a common oral health concern. In fact, virtually everyone experiences halitosis from time to time– when first waking in the morning or after indulging in a particularly smelly food. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help combat your bad breath. Consider the following tips:
- Brush those teeth thoroughly. It might seem obvious, but brushing and flossing are the best defenses you have against halitosis. That’s because bad breath is often caused by bacteria that lives inside your mouth. When not removed, the bacteria has a chance to breed and multiply, resulting in a not-so-pleasant smell. Unfortunately, half-hearted brushing isn’t going to do much to kill those smelly bacteria; proper brushing technique is key to ridding yourself of halitosis. So, make sure to brush every surface of all of your teeth– and remember to get near the gumline. For the grand finale, give your tongue a good brushing too– bacteria tend to hang out there.
- Toss your toothbrush regularly. Are you guilty of hanging on to your toothbrush long after its shelf life has passed? If so, you might be unwittingly contributing to your bad breath. Toothbrushes should be replaced about every 3 months. Neglecting to do so can lead to a frayed toothbrush that’s ineffective at its job. It can also result in a toothbrush that’s become a haven for bacteria. If you have a more expensive electric toothbrush, don’t worry: you can simply replace the head of the brush.
- Watch what you eat. It’s no secret that onions and garlic are notorious for causing bad breath. But there are also some lesser known culprits too, including many common cooking spices. Why do foods cause your breath to stink long after you’ve consumed them? The chemicals from the food make their way through your bloodstream and into your lungs, where you breathe them out and smell them all over again.
- Get rid of tonsil stones. It’s hard to imagine that something so small could cause such a potent smell, but tonsil stones are a common culprit behind halitosis. Tonsil stones are essentially a collection of bacteria and mucus that form in the tiny pockets of the tonsils. Fortunately, tonsil stones can be prevented fairly easily: just gargle some warm salt water to clear out those tonsil pits before the mucus and bacteria have the chance to form a stone.
- Drink plenty of water. Dry mouth–which is an extremely common side effect of numerous medications– can often lead to halitosis. Luckily, there are some measures you can take to help combat dry mouth. Sipping plenty of water throughout the day helps to keep your mouth moist and also washes away any lingering food particles that can lead to bad breath. Chewing sugar-free gum is another way to help combat dry mouth, as chewing gum stimulates saliva production.
- Clean dental appliances. If you wear any sort of dental appliance– such as dentures or even a simple retainer– you must remember to remove the device and clean it regularly. Your device should be cleaned just as often as you clean your natural teeth. Otherwise, it can also become home to plenty of halitosis-causing bacteria.