What you eat affects the air you exhale. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, can contribute to breath odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is expelled.

Particles of food that remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, can also cause bad breath. These bacteria can cause gum disease, or gingivitis. One of the warning signs of gum disease is persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth. Bad breath is also caused by dry mouth, which occurs when saliva flow is decreased. Dry mouth can be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth. Tobacco products cause bad breath, stain teeth, and also reduce one’s ability to taste food. Tobacco users are more likely to suffer from periodontal (gum) disease. Bad breath may also be a sign of a health problem, like a respiratory infection, chronic sinusitis, diabetes, etc. And another thing–dieters may also develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating.

So, what can I do?

? Brush your teeth at least two times every day to remove food debris and plaque. Brush your tongue, too. Be sure to brush along the gum line, as well as all tooth surfaces. Once a day, use floss to clean between teeth.

? If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning. Removable braces and retainers should also be cleaned.

? Twice-a-year dental checkups will allow your dentist to detect any problems such as gum disease, a dry mouth or other disorders. Regular dental cleanings are also essential for reducing bad breath.

? Mouthwashes do not have a long-lasting effect on bad breath. If you use one, swish it around in your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out.

? Eat more fruits and vegetables every day. Eat less meat.

? Avoid certain foods that cause bad breath. These foods might include onions, garlic and pastrami. Alcoholic beverages can cause bad breath.

? If your mouth is dry, you can suck on sugar-free mints, chew sugar-free gum or drink water.

? Avoid using tobacco products. Any kind of tobacco can cause halitosis.

? If you still have bad breath, see a health care provider to find out what is causing it.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians and http://www.ada.org


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