How to Beat Bad Breath, Treat Halitosis

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Halitosis, foul breath, or most commonly bad breath are terms used to describe noticeably unpleasant odors exhaled in breathing – whether the smell is from an oral source or not. Halitosis has a significant impact – personally and socially. It is estimated to be the third most frequent reason for seeking dental aid, following tooth decay and periodontal disease.

There are several things that you can do to beat bad breath, in short they are:

  • Brushing teeth and gums properly.
  • Flossing between teeth.
  • Drinking plenty of liquids, but not too much coffee.
  • Clean the mouth after eating or drinking milk products, fish and meat.
  • Ask a dentist to recommend a tongue cleaner.
  • Chew sugar-free gum.
  • Eat fresh, fibrous vegetables like carrots.

Home care and Treatment

There are several strategies to prevent and treat bad breath. You are recommended to:

  1. Maintain proper oral hygiene, including brushing, daily flossing, and periodic visits to dentists and hygienists. Flossing is particularly important in removing rotting food debris and bacterial plaque from between the teeth, especially at the gumline. Dentures should be properly cleaned and soaked overnight in antibacterial solution (unless otherwise advised by your dentist).
  2. Chew gum: Since dry mouth can increase bacterial buildup and cause or worsen bad breath, chewing sugarless gum can help with the production of saliva, and thereby help to reduce bad breath. Chewing may help particularly when the mouth is dry, or when one cannot perform oral hygiene procedures after meals (especially those meals rich in protein). This aids in provision of saliva, which washes away oral bacteria, has antibacterial properties and promotes mechanical activity which helps cleanse the mouth. Some chewing gums contain special anti-odor ingredients. Chewing on fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks, mastic gum or fresh parsley are common folk remedies.
  3. Gently clean the tongue surface twice daily with a tongue brush, tongue scraper or tongue cleaner to wipe off the bacterial biofilm, debris and mucus. An inverted teaspoon is also effective; a toothbrush should be avoided, as the bristles will grip the tongue, causing a gagging reflex. Scraping or otherwise damaging the tongue should be avoided, and scraping of the V-shaped row of taste buds found at the extreme back of the tongue should also be avoided. Brushing a small amount of antibacterial mouth rinse or tongue gel onto the tongue surface will further inhibit bacterial action.
  4. Eat a healthy breakfast with rough foods helps clean the very back of the tongue.
  5. Gargle right before bedtime with an effective mouthwash. Several types of commercial mouthwashes have been shown to reduce malodor for hours in peer-reviewed scientific studies. Mouthwashes may contain active ingredients which are inactivated by the soap present in most toothpastes. Thus it is recommended to refrain from using mouthwash directly after tooth brushing with paste.
  6. Maintain water levels in the body by drinking several glasses of water a day.

Currently, there are a type of halitosis, i.e chronic halitosis which is still not very well understood by most physicians and dentists, so effective treatment is not always easy to find.

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