Having bad breath can be really embarrassing. Bad breath can be the result of numerous things, but it’s usually caused by poor oral hygiene. If bacteria builds up in your mouth, it can cause your breath to smell. Bacteria breaks down pieces of food in the mouth, releasing unpleasant-smelling gas. Any food trapped in your teeth will be broken down by bacteria, causing bad breath. Persistent bad breath can sometimes be a sign of gum disease.
Eating strongly flavoured foods, such as onions and garlic, can also cause your breath to smell, as can smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol. Occasionally, bad breath can occur following an infection or illness, or as a result of taking certain types of medication. Here are 11 simple things you can do to prevent bad breath and keep your mouth healthy on a daily basis:
1. See your dentist.
The best way to make sure that you are maintaining good oral hygiene is to visit your dentist. It’s important to find out where the odor is coming from and whether or not it’s due to a medical condition or a dental problem. Since bacteria can live in the deep pockets below the gum line, your dentist can make sure you’re brushing and flossing properly.
Brushing after meals or at least twice a day will remove plaque and food debris. It’s also important to be methodical about brushing and make sure you’re getting all of the surfaces of your teeth and gums. Even if you have one tooth that you miss every time, that can cause some pretty nasty breath. Also brush at night before going to bed.
3. Floss daily
An ultrasonic toothbrushes is a good choice, but the best way to get below the gum line and in-between teeth is to floss right after you brush, every time. If you leave food there constantly, it just sits and rots—and that causes bad breath.
4. Drink up.
If you’re not drinking enough water, your salivary flow decreases, which can cause breath to be more concentrated. Always carry water with you and be sure to drink throughout the day.
5. Use mouthwash.
Mouthwash does a great job killing the bacteria that causes bad breath, but if it has a high alcohol content, it can be too drying and actually cause bacteria to grow. Look for an alcohol-free mouthwash, and ingredients like menthol, eucalyptol or thymol instead. Also, wait 15 minutes after brushing to rinse so the mouthwash will be effective.
6. Use a tongue scraper.
Brushing your tongue only gets to the surface, but a tongue scraper used every time you brush is much more effective. The tongue harbors tons of bacteria and it’s a huge surface area in the mouth.
7. Have a glass of wine.
Studies have shown that drinking red wine in moderation can inhibit the growth of bacteria. Be sure to rinse with water afterwards to prevent staining.
8. Bite into an apple.
Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables that require a lot of chewing help to clean out the teeth and the vitamin C will kill bacteria.
9. Chew gum.
Chewing sugarless gum throughout the day can help to clean out food particles in the teeth and keep the mouth moist.
10. Drink tea.
Swap out your afternoon coffee for a cup of green or black tea instead. Both contain polyphenols, which prevent the growth of bacteria.
11. Quit smoking and avoid tobacco
Smoking contributes to bad breath and tobacco tends to dry out your mouth and can leave an unpleasant smell that lingers even after brushing your teeth.
It’s not always easy to tell if you have bad breath. Other people may notice it first, but could feel uncomfortable telling you.
A simple test to find out whether you have bad breath is to lick the inside of your wrist with the back of your tongue and wait for a few seconds until the saliva dries. If your wrist smells unpleasant, it’s likely your breath does too.