We’ve all been in situations where the status of our breath comes into question — the impending first kiss, a talk with friends after garlic-y food, while whispering to coworkers in the hallway. These moments leave us all covering our mouths and laughing into our hands. But mostly, they leave us wondering how to get fresher breath.
Maybe you had an onion bagel for breakfast, or a particularly pungent cup of coffee. No big deal. A quick brush of the teeth and the problem is solved.
But sometimes bad breath can become chronic, which is often trickier to fix. According to WebMD.com,
“Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth may be a warning sign of gum (periodontal) disease. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. Bacteria cause the formation of toxins to form, which irritate the gums. [And] if gum disease continues untreated, it can damage the gums and jawbone.”
If you think that’s the case, hop on over to the dentist to clear up the issue.
More often than not, however, you can deal with bad breath all on your own. Like I said, simply brushing your teeth may be all you need. But if that’s not doing the trick, then check out these other easy ways to get your smelly self under control.
1. Clean Your Tongue
When it comes time to brush your teeth, I’m sure you focus on scrubbing those pearly whites. Maybe you also floss a little, or swish some mouthwash. But do you ever clean off your tongue?
When you think about it, the tongue is probably one of the dirtiest things in the mouth. I mean, it’s literally a big fleshy surface that’s perfect for gathering up all sorts of bacteria, according to Lauren Greene on WomensHealthMag.com. So don’t forget to clean it. (And with that imagine in mind, I’m sure you won’t forget again.)
Simply scrub your tongue with the bristles of your toothbrush. Or, you can invest in a tongue scraper, which only costs a few bucks at the drugstore. These come in handy when you have an especially horrible case of bad breath, or if your tongue has a lot of deep grooves in it, Greene explained. A scraper will get in there and remove all the gunk and bacteria, leaving you with the freshest breath ever.
2. Floss On The Regular
Remember how I just said we all floss? Well, I was kind of being nice, because only about 50 percent of us actually floss daily. I get it — it’s time consuming, it kind of hurts, and it can make your gums bleed (which is actually a sign you should be doing it more often, FYI). But you gotta pull out the old dental floss and get to work if you want fresh breath.
That’s because food bits and bacteria get stuck between your teeth, and then emit quit the stench. As Mihir Patkar noted on Lifehacker.com, “Flossing regularly helps remove any food particles. While your tongue is going to be the main problem … flossing regularly is also necessary to deal with bad breath.” Here are some tips for flossing properly.
3. Chew Some Gum, Just Not A Sugary Kind
If your breath is kickin’ and you’re nowhere near a toothbrush, then by all means reach for a piece of minty gum. Just be sure to choose a sugar-free kind so you aren’t feeding those pesky bacteria and making bad breath worse. According to Greene, “Bacteria in your mouth tend to ferment sugar, which leads to those very unpleasant odors … So stick with sugar-free solutions. And while you’re at it, cutting down on sugar in the rest of your diet can go a long way in snuffing out those icky smells.”
4. Stay As Hydrated As Possible
Ever notice how breath gets worse when your mouth is dry? That’s because the bacteria in our mouths naturally release a foul gas, according to Macaela Mackenzie on Greastist.com. Saliva is normally there to mask it and wash away the smelly germs. But when you lack spit, usually due to dehydration, the saliva can’t do its job. So drink liquids throughout the day to promote the production of saliva, and keep that mouth of yours moist and stink-free.
5. Grab A Cup Of Coffee
I associate a cup of joe with dreaded coffee breath. You know, those acrid fumes that float forth after you’ve downed a cappuccino? Well, good news for all of us hopelessly addicted coffee addicts. New research has found that a coffee extract can inhibit the bacteria that leads to bad breath. But here’s the kicker — you can’t add milk. According to Mackenzie, “Coffee leaves most people a little dehydrated, so make sure to steer clear of milk or creamer, which can be pungent in a dry mouth.”
6. Sip On A Cuppa Tea
Not a fan of coffee? Then try sipping on some tea. Not only will it help with your dry mouth and wash away smelly germs, but it also offers some other breath-boosting properties, noted Mackenzie. “Scientists have found that polyphenols — chemical compounds found in black and green tea — can prevent the growth of the bacteria that causes bad breath,” she said. It’s quite the good excuse to have a cup (or two, or three) of your favorite breakfast blend.
7. Dig Into Some Yogurt
I know I just said milk isn’t the best thing to put in your coffee, and here I am suggesting you eat dairy products. Well, yogurt is different — mainly because of its probiotics, which have been shown to keep your mouth smelling sweet.
According to Gretel H. Schueller on EatingWell.com, “Recent studies show that eating six ounces of unsweetened yogurt every day can reduce the level of odor-causing hydrogen sulfide in your mouth. The reason is that active cultures in yogurt, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, compete with the bacteria in your mouth that contribute to bad breath. Accumulation of plaque and development of periodontal disease were also reduced in the study’s yogurt eaters.”
8. Snack On An Apple (Especially After Eating Garlic)
Not only does the crunchiness of apples help scrape bacteria off the teeth, but they can also help mask food-y smells. As Schueller noted, “… research has shown that eating apples with garlic can mitigate garlic breath … The polyphenols found in apples break down the smelly sulfur compounds.” The next time you want a garlic-laden bowl of pasta, or an oh-so delicious slice of garlic bread, follow it up with an apple, and go about your day worry-free.
I know bad breath is super embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. Proper dental care, some sugar-free gum, and even a delicious cup of coffee can all put you on the path to fresher breath.
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