10 Easy steps to keeping your breath fresh

1.  The basics – Practice good oral hygiene.  This includes brushing after meals, flossing once a day, having regular professional cleanings with your dental hygienist or professional to remove the cavity causing and gum disease causing bacteria that stick to areas of tartar and plaque accumulation areas.  Anything from a rotting tooth, to an abscess, unclean dentures, and gum disease can turn breath really nasty really quickly.  It only takes bacteria 12 weeks to begin the inflammation and destruction process!

2.  Face the Facts – Do you have bad breath and don’t even realize it?  Do your friends or loved ones complain about your onion breath, yet you have no clue what they are talking about?  The amount of sulfides in your mouth determine if your breath will have a foul odor.  The higher concentration of sulfides, the worse your breath will smell.  To try it at home, wipe a piece of gauze on your tongue.  If it has a yellow tinge or smells, you have a high level of sulfides in your body.  Or you can lick the back of your hand (please wash your hands first!), wait 10 minutes and smell your hand.  The sulfur salts (if present) will remain and leave your hand smelling badly!  Or you could floss your back teeth and smell the floss.

3.  Eat more Fruit – Adding crisp fruits and veggies to your daily diet cleans your mouth naturally by removing plaque and food particles from in between your teeth and gums mechanically and by stimulating salivary flow.  Examples are carrots, apples, and celery.

4.  Mind your Tongue – The top and back of your tongue is one serious source of halitosis.  Bacteria love to hang out on the back of this large muscle where food can easily get rapped and rot, causing an odor.  Be sure to also brush your tongue as part of a good oral hygiene routine.  Or you can use a tongue scraper.

5.  Go Herbal – Adding natural remedies like black tea or green tea, and cardamom to foods can alleviate bad breath by zapping fungi that breeds in the mouth.

6.  Kiss the Atkins-type Diets Buh-Bye – Diets low in carbs can cause funky breath.  This is caused by a process called ketosis – chemicals that are released from the body burning fats in place of carbs.  Because they have no where else to go, these foul-smelling chemicals are released in your mouth – YUCK!  Don’t fear the bread basket!!

7.  Chew it Over – Chew sugar-free gum!  It increases the saliva in the mouth by chewing and makes your mouth unappealing for bacteria.  It’s gotta be sugar-free (Brands like Dentyne, Trident, Orbit, etc. are all sugar-free), if the gum has sugar, it will just feed the bacteria in your mouth and allow it to ferment making icky breath worse!

8.  Flush It Out – Avoid dry mouth by drinking lots of water!  When you keep your mouth hydrated, it will release enzymes through the saliva that can wipe out bad bacteria.

9.  Evaluate Your Medicine Cabinet – If you can’t pinpoint the source of your chronic bad breath, look at the medicines you take daily or on a regular basis.  Certain medications, like blood pressure lowering ones, antidepressants, and antihistamines contribute to dry mouth and that toxic taste.  Ask your dental professional about special mouthwashes and other products that can help alleviate dry mouth.

10.  Get Physical – If you have tried it all, go get checked out by your doctor and dentist.  Bad breath can also come from underlying health problems , such as liver problems, acid reflux, diabetes, sinus infections, and more!

*To read the full article, see “Florida Dental Association Today’s FDA” Reception Room edition 2013, “10 Easy Tips to Keep Bad Breath at Bay” by Dr. Margaret Mitchell, pg12-13.

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