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Dealing with Bad Breath

Nobody likes having bad breath, but it's more common than most people think.  And there are very easy solutions to bad breath in most cases. 

Some simple measures can help put a muzzle on bad breath, according to an article in the June issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Bad breath can be caused by food particles in the mouth, dry mouth, or a health problem. Mayo experts offer these tips to help prevent it:

  • Brush your teeth or use mouthwash after you eat. Brushing is the more effective of the two. If you use mouthwash, make sure you swish it around in your mouth for 30 seconds before you spit it out.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day in order to remove decaying food.
  • When brushing your teeth, brush the back of your tongue, too, or scrape it with a tongue scraper, available at pharmacies.
  • Drink water to keep your mouth moist. When your mouth gets dry, there isn't enough saliva to wash away dead cells. You can also chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy to help stimulate saliva production.
  • Don't eat foods -- such as onions and garlic -- that encourage bad breath. These foods contain oils that are transferred to the lungs and exhaled.
  • If you have dentures, clean them daily to get rid of food particles and bacteria.
  • If these simple measures don't improve your bad breath, see your doctor or dentist. Persistent bad breath may be a sign of periodontal disease, an abscessed tooth, infection, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, certain kinds of esophageal problems, and other health conditions.

Although halitosis (bad breath) usually is nothing more than a harmless reflection of what you've eaten, sometimes it's a sign of a serious dental or medical condition, the American Dental Association says.

Halitosis could indicate chronic bronchitis or sinusitis, postnasal drip, gastrointestinal illness, and liver or kidney disease, the ADA warns.

If watching the foods you eat and brushing and flossing regularly do not control halitosis, the ADA recommends talking to your dentist about any other conditions that may be responsible, including periodontal disease. If your dentist doesn't find a cause, you should talk with your doctor.

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