Health & Wellness

Banish Bad Breath

It affects most people at some point; here’s how to fight it off

By Katrina Caruso

It’s embarrassing to admit, but most of us have bad breath now and then—or even chronically—and may not know it. The problem is usually caused by poor oral hygiene or dehydration.

Here are some of the top tips for keeping your mouth feeling and smelling fresh.

  1. This might be obvious, but it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice daily, and to floss at least once a day. This will fight plaque build-up and bacteria. Set a timer for three minutes so that you can make sure you’re reaching all the nooks and crannies while brushing.
  2. Visit the dentist regularly, at least once a year, so that he or she can ensure that everything is all right. Bad breath can be caused by a serious problem like infected gums. During your appointment, ask the dentist or hygienist to remind you how to brush your teeth properly.
  3. Get yourself a tongue scraper—they’re much more effective than brushing your tongue. This will help you get rid of residual bacteria in the mouth. The ideal tool is metal.
  4. Rinse your mouth with a natural remedy. Two drops of peppermint essential oil in a half cup of water can do wonders for the freshness of your mouth; you can add a teaspoon of baking soda to whiten your teeth. Green tea has also been shown to help with bacteria overgrowth in the mouth.
  5. Start the day with a glass of water to rinse and rehydrate, and drink more water than you think you need throught the day. Most of us are somewhat dehydrated—especially in the winter, when the heating system is working overtime. Drinking enough water will not only rehydrate you but wash away leftover bits of food in the mouth and fight dry mouth, both which can also cause bad breath.
  6. Snack on fruit and vegetables like carrots, celery, and apples. These healthy treats create more saliva in the mouth and also stop the build-up of too much acid in an stomach—another cause of bad breath.
  7. Avoid breath mints and gum, unless they’re sugar-free. These should also be used only sometimes—and if you follow the first six steps, you shouldn’t need to resort to them.
  8. Finally, cut back on alcohol and quit smoking. Alcohol dehydrates the body, and as we all know, smoking doesn’t make anything smell good.

Photo: iStock/Deagreez.