John C. Chao, D.D.S.

Research Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Ostrow School of Dentistry, USC

(626) 308-9104

News & Press

Five Ways To Stop Bad Breath

Even if you are extremely conscientious about keeping the breath fresh and clean, there may be times when you suspect that you have bad breath. If people turn their heads or back away when you talk, it may be a sign that there is a problem with bad breath. Other indications of bad breath may be that your floss smells badly after you use it or your mouth has a taste to it. If your rub a cloth over the back of your tongue, and the cloth smells, then this may also be a sign. However the best way to learn if you have bad breath is to ask someone.

If you do have bad breath, here are five ways to solve the problem:

Watch what you eat for breakfast and lunch. Foods high in sulfur, such as onion and garlic, cause bad breath, as everyone knows. Proteins, such as meat and dairy products, quickly convert to sulfur by the bacteria on your tongue. Sugars help build up these bacteria and contribute to bad breath as well.

So eating a hamburger with onions for lunch, with a mint candy to "freshen your breath," guarantees a nauseating experience with those you meet in the afternoon.

Keep your mouth moist. The thinner your saliva, the more oxygen it contains. Oxygen kills bacteria. So increase the oxygen content in your mouth with frequent drinks of water, sugar-free gum (e.g., xylitol) or oxygenating mouth rinses. Mouth washes that contain alcohol fail to help as they dry out your mouth. A better solution is to follow each meal or snack with a good water rinsing.

Clean your mouth. Arrange for the time and place to brush and floss your teeth after each meal or eating a snack. Don't just brush your teeth; brush your gums (gently), inside of your cheeks and the roof of the mouth.

Scrape your tongue. You would never clean the furniture in a room and ignore the carpet where most of the dirt falls. If you just brush your tongue, you're just moving the dirt around. Scrape your tongue. Use a tongue scraper that you can get from your dentist or the neighborhood drug store. Scrape as far back as you can, even if you gag. Persist until the impulse stops. You may be surprised by the amount of stuff you remove. After a few good scrapings, your food will likely taste better and your sense of smell might even improve.

See your dentist. Get your teeth "cleaned" at least twice a year and more often if you have already been diagnosed as having gum disease. Bad smell or bad taste in your mouth, along with gum bleeding, is primary signs of gum disease. Of course cavities will contribute to bad breath also.

When you keep your teeth and gums healthy, you will feel better and more energetic. It naturally follows that you will also have a great smile and feel confident about your breath.

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