How to avoid bad breath

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, may seem like an insignificant thing but it can prevent you from landing a job, getting a date, having a fantastic social life and making new friends.

Bad breath is caused by naturally-present anaerobic bacteria which assist in digestion by breaking down proteins in certain foods that we eat. A by-product of this process is Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSC) which causes the noticeably unpleasant odor. Here are some tips to help combat the problem:

Avoid garlic, onions and chilli

Essential oils that are present in these spices linger in your mouth and stomach for up to 24 hours after consumption and this stubborn smell will remain even if you brush your teeth. You can neutralise the smell by sipping lemon or Calamansi.

Avoid pepperoni, salami and other spiced meats

Like the above foods, these greasy meats contain smelly oils which remain on your breath for ages and if you burp, people will know exactly what topping you had on your pizza.

Avoid smelly cheese

This is pretty much self explanatory; although it is tempting to indulge in these costly luxurious appetizers, try to limit your spongy cheese intake.

Avoid smelly seafood

You can buy fish which do not have a strong smell like white fish so try and avoid the smellier varieties like milkfish (bangus) and local delicacies like bagoong (fermented fish in brine), alamang (shrimp paste) and Bombay duck which will leave a lingering smell.

Don't smoke

Not only is it bad for your health, smokers can be detected from several feet away as they smell like a walking ashtray and the smell is hard to mask.

Choose water over other drinks

Beer, wine, whisky and strong coffee are the worst beverages in terms of the smelly residue that they leave in your mouth. Drinking water as an alternative is not only recommended by many for its detoxification properties, it can also dilute the anaerobic bacteria inside your mouth consequently reducing or even eliminating bad breath.

Carry a travel toothbrush and toothpaste

Brush your teeth immediately after every meal to remove all traces and smells of the food.

Gargle after eating

If you do not have a toothbrush to hand, gargle several times with water by swishing the water all around your mouth, left and right vigorously. This will dislodge any stuck food and wash out any odor left by the food.

Use a tongue cleaner
Bad breath can also sometimes be caused by dirt trapped on the tongue as the tongue actually has tiny little hair-like fleshy protrusions which can accrue dirt and germs. Brushing your tongue with a toothbrush is inadequate as it just moves the dirt around the tongue but scraping the top layer with a tongue cleaner will help.

Use dental floss

Floss daily, especially before you go to bed, as sometimes food which is trapped between your teeth is not removed by tooth-brushing and as it slowly decays, it will give off a foul odor.

Consider using a mouthwash

Some experts say that mouthwashes can dry the mouth out whilst others are strongly in favor as they can reduce bacteria and eliminate bad breath as well as dislodging trapped food. You could try diluting it in water and using it occasionally as a compromise.

Visit your dentist every six months

Sometimes bad breath is a result of mouth, teeth or gum decay or infections and seeing a dentist can highlight if any one of these are causing the problem.

Adhering to the above advice should help to make a noticeable difference to any unpleasant oral odors.

If you feel that they have not cured your bad breath, speak with your dentist or consult a doctor who is preferably a gastroenteritis or Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist as in some cases, bad breath originates from deeper within the throat and stomach.

One emergency tip: If you're up for a date or a short interview, you can try chewing mint-flavored gum. This will temporarily cover up the smell (until after your date), but it won't cure your bad breath.

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