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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Tips for Fresher Breath

For starters, here are some things not commonly known about bad breath, with some breath-freshening tips included within them:

- Despite public opinion, bad breath rarely comes from the stomach. In most cases (about 90%), bad breath comes from the mouth itself.

- Most people can smell other people's breath, but have trouble smelling their own. So, if you think you have bad breath, you might or you might not. Bad taste is usually not a good indication. The best and simplest way to find out is to ask an adult in your family or a close friend.

- In the mouth, the most common source of bad breath is the very back of the tongue. Food debris, dead cells and post-nasal drip can accumulate there, and the breakdown of the proteins by the resident bacteria causes foul odor. The second most important cause is bacteria breaking down protein between your teeth. By the way, the gases and other molecules that the bacteria produce are toxic and can harm your gums as well. Two good reasons to floss every day (if you don’t believe me, smell the floss).

- Bad breath usually increases when the mouth is dry. Chewing sugarless (xylitol-based) gum for 4-5 minutes at a time can be helpful.

- The generalization that mouthwashes work for only a few minutes is wrong. Try gargling right before bedtime for best results. Some researchers recommend using only alcohol-free mouth rinses.

- Eating a hearty and healthy breakfast cleans the mouth and back of the tongue, gets the saliva flowing, and is a good start to a day of pleasant breath.

- Some people (perhaps 5-7% of the population) experience small crumbly "stones" in their mouths that have a foul smell. These are called "tonsilloliths." They are partially calcified, full of bacteria and develop in crypts in the tonsils. They smell pretty bad, but do not always cause bad breath (again, a person afflicted with these would almost have to ask someone if their breath is bad).

- In the large majority of cases, bad breath can be dramatically improved or eliminated.

- Children as young or two or three can have bad breath from post-nasal drip, dental plaque and transient throat infections. However, if they develop sudden offensive odor that appears to come from all over their body, ask the physician to check whether they stuffed something up one of their nostrils. I remember hearing the case of a young boy who had terrible body odor in general. A doctor found he had something entrenched up his nose -- a piece of styrofoam.

Here are some additional tips for more fresh-breath support:

Keep your tongue clean
Gently brush it with a soft nylon toothbrush after you brush your teeth.

Drink more water
The drier your mouth, the worse your breath gets.

Keep calm
Stress actually makes your breath worse.

Avoid breath mints and/or gum that contain sugar
These actually make your breath worse, as the sugar feeds the bad bacteria of the mouth (also leading to plaque and cavities). Use only mints/gum which are based around xylitol (see my toothpaste article for more information about this dentally-useful substance).

Don’t try to kill the odor of bad breath with another odor
This is what most of the "big name" oral care companies would like you to believe works, so that you will saturate your mouth with their various chemical mixtures.

Blow your nose more often
Your breath gets worse when you have a cold, allergies, or post-nasal drip.

Stay away from mouthwash containing alcohol or toothpaste that has sodium lauryl sulfate
Do you have any idea how many oral care products contain these two ingredients? Here’s a hint: just about all of them. Among other potential problems, these may lead to a dry mouth (remember, dryness of the mouth tends toward worse-smelling breath).

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