When I was in high school, the guy I dated referred to it as “ferocious reindeer breath.” When we got a little older, it was “beer breath.” In both cases, it referred to the scent of our breath after a night of eating pizza and wings (loaded with garlic, of course) or partying with a gang of friends. Fortunately, once the food and drink were out of our systems, we started to smell a bit sweeter.
Millions of Americans struggle with bad breath, many occasionally, some chronically. Have you ever wondered what really causes it and what it takes to get rid of it for good?
As expected, food is the number one source of bad mouth odors. Everyone knows about garlic, but onions and many spicy foods, like those made with curry, are guilty as well. Certain drinks like coffee can also have an effect on breath. The thing with food, though, is that when it’s out of your digestive system, it loses its power. Your breath can bounce back.
Mouth odors from poor dental hygiene take a little more effort to eliminate. If you don’t brush and floss as instructed by your dentist, you could be leaving behind bits of food that rot in your mouth and promote the growth of bacteria. A build-up of bacteria causes inflammation of the tissues and that, in turn, causes a less-than-pleasant aroma.
Getting serious with your oral hygiene is critical. Brush twice a day and brush after you eat. Remember to brush your tongue, too. Floss every day to remove those bits of food between your teeth. And don’t get too attached to your toothbrush; replace it every two to three months. Take extra care in cleaning if you’ve got dentures or an oral appliance like braces or a bridge. See your dentist at least twice a year for a check-up and thorough cleaning.
There are some things you can do to keep ferocious reindeer breath at bay. Keep these tips from the American Dental Association in mind:
- As mentioned, practice good oral hygiene.
- Keep an eye on what you eat. Watch the garlic and the spicy foods, but don’t forget they aren’t the only things that can linger on your breath.
- Drink lots of water. It helps wash away some of those left over bits of food that can feed the bacteria in your mouth.
- Toss the tobacco. Smoking and chewing tobacco causes bad breath and stains your teeth and can change the way food tastes.
- Try mouthwash. It’s not a cure, just a cover up to temporarily sweeten your breath, but it helps for a little while. The same is true for gum and mints.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask your significant other or a close friend about your breath. If you get the “thumbs-down,” then follow these tips, and make being close to you an even more pleasant experience!