It’s easy to improve your breath and keep your teeth and gums healthy at the same time. Try these simple steps to make your mouth feel fresh and clean.
1. Brush and floss more often.
Plaque, the sticky build-up on your teeth, collects bacteria that cause bad breath. Trapped food also makes the problem worse.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once.
If you’re concerned about your breathing, do both a little more often.
Don’t overdo it, though. Brushing too hard can wear down your teeth and make them susceptible to tooth decay.
2. Rinse your mouth.
Mouthwash not only freshens breath, but also provides extra protection by killing bacteria. A fresh mint flavor can make you feel good. However, make sure that the mouthwash you choose kills the germs that cause bad breath. Don’t just mask the smell. Rinse daily with a good quality mouthwash and stop bad breath at the source.
The ideal time to do this is before bed. You can also help your breathing by rinsing your mouth out with clean water after eating. It can remove food particles stuck in your teeth.
3. Scratch your tongue.
The plaque that normally forms on the tongue can harbor foul-smelling bacteria. To get rid of them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush.
If your brush is too big to comfortably reach the back of your tongue, try a scraper. “They are specifically designed to apply even pressure to the surface of the tongue area. This removes bacteria, food particles and dead skin cells that brushing alone cannot remove,” says hygienist Pamela L. Quiñones, Past President of the American Association of Dental Hygienists.
4. Avoid foods that make your breath acidic.
Onions and garlic are big culprits. But brushing them after eating doesn’t help.
Substances that cause odor enter the bloodstream and travel to the lungs, where you breathe them out, says dentist Richard Price, DMD, a spokesman for the American Dental Association.
The best way to stop the problem? Don’t eat them or at least avoid them before going to work or meeting friends.
5. Quit the tobacco habit.
In addition to causing cancer, smoking can damage gums, stain teeth and cause bad breath.
Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help control cravings. If you need a little help, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss smoking cessation programs or prescription medications that can help you quit for good.
6. Avoid after-dinner mints and chewing gum.
Bacteria in your mouth love sugar. They use it to make acid. This wears down your teeth and causes bad breath. Chew sugarless gum instead.
“Chewing gum stimulates salivation, which is the mouth’s natural defense mechanism against plaque acids that cause tooth decay and bad breath,” says Quiñones.
7. Keep your gums healthy.
Gum disease causes bad breath. Bacteria collect in pockets at the base of your teeth and create an odor.
If you have gum disease, your dentist may suggest you see a periodontist who specializes in treating it.
8. Moisten your mouth.
You can get tooth decay and bad breath if you don’t produce enough saliva. If you have a dry mouth, drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy.
Also, use a humidifier at night to moisten the air in your home.
9. See your doctor.
If your bad breath persists despite your best efforts, make an arrangement an appointment with your doctor. They will check if your problems are related to an illness.