Help for Bad Breath

It's one of the more embarrassing dental problems, but one of the easiest to solve.


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Never ask someone you love, or even like, if you have bad breath. Odds are, they'll fib.

If you really want to know the truth, ask a kid. Or your dentist.

More than 90 percent of dentists say they regularly see patients with chronic bad breath or halitosis. But while bad breath is one of the more embarrassing problems, it can be one of the easiest to solve.

Most cases are caused by bacteria in the mouth or on the tongue. Regular brushing and cleanings are often all the treatment needed to freshen your breath. But bad breath that doesn't go away may be a tip-off to a more serious medical condition, such as gum disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or liver failure.

If you just can't freshen your breath, see your dentist for a thorough exam to rule out tooth decay or gum disease. Then brush, floss, and use a tongue scraper every evening to remove the bacteria from the back of your mouth.

Tongue scrapers are grooved plastic instruments. Some are simple strips while others look like a short-headed razor. They are used to sweep away odor-causing bacteria that collect on the back of the tongue, a major source of volatile sulfur compounds that give off that rotten-egg smell. Scrapers have long been used in various forms in other cultures. Plastic tongue scrapers are inexpensive and available in most drugstores.

  • Brush and floss teeth twice daily.
  • Brush your tongue daily.
  • Rinse with an ADA-accepted fluoride mouthwash.
  • Keep your mouth moist. Certain medications can cause dry mouth, which happens when the flow of saliva decreases. Saliva is necessary to clean the mouth and remove food particles.
  • If you think you have constant bad breath, keep a log of all the foods you eat for one week and then call your dentist.
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