Bad Breath





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Bad breath (halitosis) is more than just a social problem. It can indicate much more serious dental trouble, including gum disease, tooth decay and even oral cancer.

The best way to combat bad breath is to have your teeth cleaned professionally (called a prophylaxis) and to maintain your own homecare through regular brushing and flossing.

There are also a few "tricks" that can keep your breath fresh. These are things you may already know, but are still worth mentioning.

One is diet. Garlic, milk products, even alcohol can cause halitosis. Also, antihistamines -- or anything that can dry out your saliva -- will contribute to bad breath. Finally, coffee and meats seem to add to the problem. By contrast, tea and more vegetarian foods are better for you.

What can you do if you think you have halitosis?

Besides getting your teeth cleaned, you can work extra hard on your brushing and flossing, AND you can scrape the top of your tongue with a spoon or tongue blade. The dorsum (top) of the tongue contains a lot of sulfur compounds, which lead to bad breath.

What about mouthwashes?

Generally, they are alcohol based, and will therefore dry out your saliva and, in the long run, make things worse. And, they really do not kill bacteria (with the exception of Listerine, which does kill some bugs).

One mouthwash, Peridex, is effective. It contains 0.12% Chlorhexidine Gluconate, which has been shown to effectively eliminate oral bacteria. Peridex is available by prescription only.

Bottom line?

Eat right, get your teeth cleaned regularly, brush and floss at home, and try to avoid drying out your saliva.

Chewing gum is good, but avoid Altoids, which are sugar based, and can give you a mouthful of decay!


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