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Get Rid of Bad Breath

Clean up your breath!


Updated May 13, 2004

Bad breath may not be life-threatening but it can cause embarrassment and social anxiety.

Causes of Bad Breath

  • Dental problems: Poor dental hygiene leads to an accumulation of bacterial plaque on teeth or inflammation of gums. This bacterium contributes to smelly breath.
  • Dry mouth: Insufficient saliva allows dead cells to accumulate in your mouth. The cells decompose and cause odor.
  • Food: The oils from garlic and onions are absorbed into your bloodstream and transferred to your lungs, where they're expelled when you breathe out.

Preventing and Treating Bad Breath

  • Practice good dental care. Brush your teeth and your tongue -- where bad breath-causing bacteria reside.
  • Floss daily. See your dentist regularly.
  • Avoid mouthwashes with high amounts of alcohol. Alcohol dries the mucous membranes of the mouth
  • Drink water for moist mouth. Chew gum or suck on candy. Sugarless is best.
  • Drink tea. A substance in tea may prevent the growth of bacteria. Polyphenols, chemical components of tea, prevent both the growth of bacteria responsible for bad breath and the bacteria's production of malodorous compounds.
  • Eat cranberries. Cranberries may be able to eliminate the offensive-smelling bacteria that can build up in your mouth and lead to bad breath. Apparently, the tart berries make the bacteria less sticky, so plaque is less likely to form.
  • If you have dentures, clean them at least once a day or as directed by your dentist.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking dries the mouth, encouraging the growth of the bacteria that causes bad breath.
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