Bad breath (halitosis) often stems from bacteria feeding on food particles in the mouth. Fend off bad breath by:
- Brushing your teeth — Brush at least twice a day. Consider also brushing after meals. If brushing isn't convenient, swish with water or mouthwash, or chew sugarless gum, to rid your mouth of food particles.
- Cleaning your tongue — Odor-causing bacteria thrive on the rough surface of the tongue, particularly at the back. Mucus from postnasal drip also can feed odor-causing bacteria. Use a toothbrush to brush your tongue, or use a tongue scraper. Gargling with mouthwash also may help.
- Flossing daily — This removes food particles between your teeth.
- Drinking enough water or chewing sugarless gum — Saliva and water wash away food particles that feed bad breath. Talk to your doctor if you have persistent dry mouth, as it can be caused by a number of medications or certain diseases.
- Watching what you eat, drink and inhale — Tobacco, garlic, onions, alcohol and coffee cause temporary bad breath.
- Talking to your dentist or doctor — Bad breath that doesn't respond to these changes may be related to a dental problem such as gum disease or an abscessed tooth. Dry mouth or problems of the sinuses, throat, stomach or lungs may cause bad breath, as may a number of diseases.
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