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Andrew M. Sklar, DDS
Be Kissable Is Bad Breath Ruining Your Love Life?
Andrew M. Sklar, DDS, PC

Be Kissable Is Bad Breath Ruining Your Love Life?

Bad breath is the bane of many people's lives. Often you don't even know you have it because you can't smell your own breath. That's why it's important to have your dentist check it out.

Most of the time bad breath comes from the mouth, not the stomach as many people believe. Garlic and onions can be obvious culprits, but any food debris left over from a snack or meal can also cause bad breath. Left over food accumulates on the very back of the tongue, where it is broken down by the resident bacteria and creates volatile sulfur compounds (VSC's). These VSC's produce the foul odor we refer to as bad breath.

While the most common source of bad breath is the back of the tongue, another place bacteria can hide is between your teeth. The bacteria break down the food between your teeth and can make your breath smell like a trash can. In addition to causing bad breath, the gases and other molecules produced by the bacteria are toxic and can harm your gums.

If your mouth is dry you are more likely to have bad breath.”Morning breath”, for example, is caused by breathing through your mouth rather than your nose, which dries out your mouth. Eating a hearty and healthy breakfast cleans the mouth and back of the tongue and gets the saliva flowing. Drinking alcoholic beverages or smoking will also dry out your mouth, which will make your breath smell even more. If your mouth is dry during the day, chew some sugarless gum for several minutes. This will increase the amount of saliva in your mouth to help cleanse it and wash away the debris and odors.

One of the simplest ways to help your breath smell more like a rose than a clove of garlic is to drink more water. Water promotes a healthy salivary flow and combats bad breath with its naturally antibiotic properties. In addition to drinking it, try swishing and swirling the water around in your mouth to help remove food lurking in the crevices between your tooth and gum.

Many countries have traditional remedies for bad breath. In Brazil, they chew cinnamon; in Thailand, guava peel; in Iraq, cloves; in Italy, parsley; and in eastern Asia, aniseed. These remedies are effective because they are plants that contain anti-bacterial agents.

In the U.S. we often use gums, mints, breath sprays and breath strips. While these can provide a burst of freshness and flavor, they don't really do much for bad breath because they don't kill germs. They simply mask odors. Mouthwashes do a somewhat better job, though still not great. They do kill some germs, but the bacteria quickly grow back. In addition, many contain alcohol, which dries out your mouth and defeats the purpose, maybe even making things worse. One exception is BreathRx, which is sugar free and alcohol free, contains an antibacterial agent, and has zinc to neutralize the VSC's throughout the day.

For the best results in combating bad breath, see your dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning, a breath analysis and instructions on how to keep food and bacteria out of the crevices between your tooth and gum. Brush properly at least twice a day and use dental floss between each and every tooth, every day. Scraping or brushing your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper helps too.

In the end, it's really quite simple. Clean teeth, a clean tongue, healthy gums, a healthy diet, and eight glasses of water a day will keep your breath smelling like a rose.

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