Bye-Bye Bad Breath

Morning breath is a common occurrence, but all-day halitosis isn't something you should accept as the norm. Even if garlic and onions are on your daily menu, there could be other reasons your mouth reeks. Dr. Margaret Mitchell, DDS, founder of Chicago-based Mitchell Dental Spa, says you don't have to live with bad breath and shares her top halitosis-halting dental health tips.

woman chewing sugar free gume

Brush your teeth

If you're a teeth-brushing slacker, it's no wonder you have smelly breath. Dr. Mitchell says, "Step one in keeping your breath minty fresh is to follow the steps of basic care and cleaning for your teeth and gums — this includes brushing after meals, flossing daily and scheduling bi-annual dental appointments to keep cavities and bacteria at bay." The dental expert also warns that halitosis may be a sign of a serious dental issue. "Anything from a rotting tooth to an abscess to unclean dentures can turn breath really nasty, and for more serious dental problems it is extremely important to seek professional treatment," she adds.

DIY bad breath tests:

  • Wipe a piece of gauze on your tongue — if it is has a yellow tinge or smells, you have high levels of sulfides in your body causing the bad breath.
  • Lick the back of your hand... wait 10 minutes and smell your hand — the sulfur salts (if present) will remain and leave your hand smelling bad.
  • Floss your back teeth and smell the floss.

Face the facts

Do your friends keep their distance from you when you're discussing the latest reality TV series? Do they complain you have bad breath and you have no idea what they are talking about? Dr. Mitchell says you may be oblivious to your bad breath and advises doing a bad breath test. "Consider checking in with your dentist and using a bad breath meter such as Halimeter or OralChroma because these machines measure the amount of sulfides in your breath," she explains. "You can also do a breath test at home."

appleFollow a better breath diet

According to Dr. Mitchell, simply adding crisp fruits and vegetables to your daily intake can clean your chops naturally by removing plaque and food particles from in between your teeth and gums. Incorporating more fresh produce into your diet will also deliver a delicious dose of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that can boost your dental and overall health.

Tame your tongue

Did you know that your tongue, especially on top in the back of mouth, is a serious source of halitosis? "Bacteria love to linger on the back of this muscle (your tongue), and it's a location where food can easily get trapped and rot, causing odor," says Dr. Mitchell. "Invest in a tongue scraper — it will save you a fortune on gum and mints."

Go herbal to get rid of halitosis

Schedule tea time every day to help you keep bad breath at bay. "Sipping natural remedies like black and green tea can alleviate bad breath naturally by zapping bacteria that breeds in the mouth," Dr. Mitchell explains. She also recommends spicing up your meals with the Indian spice cardamom to curb halitosis.

Ditch the low-carb diet

whole wheat bread

Still following a low-carb diet? Dr. Mitchell doesn't recommend it when it comes to wanting to be halitosis-free. Low-carb diets lead to your body releasing ketones, which are foul-smelling chemicals that get exuded through your breath.

Chew sugarless gum

Chewing gum can freshen your breath — if it is sugarless gum. "Make sure to check the label and see that your gum is sugarless since bacteria in the mouth are apt to ferment sugar, thereby making your icky breathe even worse," Dr. Mitchell says. "While you're at it you might consider slashing sugar from the rest of your diet as well to freshen your breath."

Drink and drink some more

Staying adequately hydrated isn't just good for your health, it's a great way to wash away halitosis. "As long as you stay continually hydrated, your mouth will release enzymes through your saliva that wipe out bad bacteria — and bad breath," Dr. Mitchell adds.

pill bottleCheck your prescriptions

"If you can’t seem to pinpoint the source of your chronic foul fumes, you might want to search for the source in your medicine cabinet," Dr. Mitchell advises. " Certain medicines like blood pressure pills, anti-depressants and antihistamines contribute to dry mouth, and thus, a toxic taste (and odor) in your mouth." The dental expert recommends talking to your doctor.

Get a physical

Speaking of doctors, if you've tried everything and your bad breath is still lingering, Dr. Mitchell suggests making an appointment to get a physical. She adds, "Bad breath can sometimes be an underlying symptom of other health problems, including liver problems, reflux, diabetes and sinus infections."

More dental health tips

Surprising things that are good for your teeth
Pregnancy and dental health
10 Diet tips for dental health

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