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Find out what causes bad breath, and how to prevent the embarrassment of halitosis.

Change Your Breath: From Bad to Good

Bad breath or halitosis, whichever you call it; you definitely don’t want it.

Yet bad breath is as common as many of the foods and conditions that cause it. The question is, how can you banish bad breath — or better yet, avoid it altogether?

Bad Breath and Other Top Problems in Your Mouth

Three Common Causes of Bad Breath

  1. Food is by far the most common reason good breath goes bad, and we do love the fare that can lead to bad breath, from onions and garlic, to coffee and cheese. Not only do items like these have strong — and to some — objectionable odors, but when food particles get stuck on the tongue and between the teeth, they can make already-bad breath even worse.
  2. Dry mouth (xerostomia) is another reason good breath may turn bad. Saliva helps keep your mouth clean. When your body doesn’t make enough saliva, it can’t wash away odor-causing bacteria. Conditions like diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and the autoimmune condition Sjögren’s syndrome can cause dry mouth, as can medications for depression, hypertension, or allergies.
  3. Tobacco products are bad for just about every part of your body, including your breath. Not only does tobacco cause bad breath, but it also stains teeth, irritates gums, and raises your risk of oral cancers.

Although smelly foods, dry mouth, and tobacco are among the more common causes of halitosis, bad breath can also be caused by periodontal disease, chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, post-nasal drip, infection, dirty dentures, and liver or kidney problems. If bad breath worries you, be sure to talk to your dentist or doctor to rule out more serious reasons for halitosis.

5 Quick Fixes to End Bad Breath Now

Although you’ll want to learn what’s behind your halitosis — and treat the long-term cause — you can temporarily turn bad breath good with these quick fixes:

  • Drink more water. Water or sugar-free beverages help keep your mouth clean by keeping it moist.  
  • Brush your teeth and tongue. There’s nothing better than brushing your teeth and tongue and flossing to foil bad breath, says dentist Kimberly A. Harms, DDS, an American Dental Association (ADA) consumer advisor. You can also “seal the deal with a 30-second bacteria-killing mouth rinse,” says Harms. Look for one with the ADA seal of approval.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages. These can leave your mouth parched, so steer clear of caffeinated beverages if you have a problem with dry mouth.
  • Chew sugarless gum. Chewing gum can help banish bad breath by stimulating saliva, which washes away bacteria on teeth and gums. Kimberly Herrig, a registered dental hygienist in Los Angeles, also recommends sugarless candies to foil bad breath fast.
  • Ask about antimicrobial mouthwash.

    Mouthwashes can help,but don’t rely on mints and mouthwashes to tame bad breath over the long-term, says Harms. They “only mask the odor temporarily,” she says, and some mouthwashes may stain teeth when used too often. Talk to your dentist to see if an antimicrobial wash is right for you.

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    • 3000 Chapel Hill Road, Suite 104
    • Douglasville, GA. 30135


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