How to Control Bad Breath

Four Methods:Assessing Your BreathControlling Bad Breath with Dietary ChangesCombating Bad Breath with Good Dental HygieneSeeking Medical Care

No one wants to be that person in the room with bad breath when everyone knows it, but no one will tell them. Luckily there are many things you can do to improve your breath. If they don’t work, then you should see a doctor to see if it is a symptom of an underlying condition.[1]

Method 1
Assessing Your Breath

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    Sniff your own breath. It is difficult for you to assess your own breath because you become habituated to it.[2] This is similar to how people can have body odor and not know it. However, if your breath is very bad, this may work:
    • Cup your hands over your nose and mouth.
    • Breathe into your hands from your mouth and inhale through your nose.
    • If your breath is very bad, you will probably be able to smell it.
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    Do a lick test. This method can be used to determine whether your dry saliva smells unpleasant.[3]
    • Lick the inside of your wrist.
    • Allow the saliva to dry. This should only take a few seconds.
    • Go somewhere out of the wind, and then sniff the dried saliva on your wrist.
    • If the saliva on your wrist smells bad, then your breath does too.
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    Ask a trusted friend or relative. This is probably the most objective way to get an answer, as long as the person really will tell you if it’s bad.
    • Other people will be better at assessing your breath than you because they won’t already be used to it.[4]

Method 2
Controlling Bad Breath with Dietary Changes

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    Adjust your diet to reduce bad breath. Some foods cause strong, often unpleasant, odors. Foods to avoid include:[5][6]
    • Garlic
    • Onions, especially raw onions
    • Spicy foods
    • Cabbage
    • Coffee
    • Alcohol
    • Soda
    • Sticky sugary foods that increase bacteria growth
    • High doses of vitamin supplements
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    Mask any odors by chewing mint or parsley leaves. These may cover up bad odors.[7]
    • Strong mint tablets and sprays can be purchased over-the-counter at local drug stores and grocery stores.
    • If parsley or mint leaves are used, they must be fresh. Dried leaves are unlikely to be strong enough.
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    Eat crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables. These foods will help scrape your teeth clean as you eat them, plus they are good for you. Options include:
    • Apples
    • Celery
    • Carrots
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    Drink extra water. Water will combat dry mouth (which can cause bad breath) and wash out your mouth. This will help prevent food particles from getting stuck in your teeth and causing bacteria to grow.[8][9][10]
    • If your mouth is dry, increase your water intake. The amount of water each person needs will vary based on their body size, the climate they live in and their activity level.
    • If you urinate infrequently or pass dark or cloudy urine, you may be dehydrated and should increase your water intake.
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    Chew gum after eating. This will stimulate your body to produce saliva and help remove and wash down any last bits of food.[11]
    • Sugar-free gum is best because it won’t increase your chances of tooth decay, which can cause bad breath.
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    Don’t fast or go on a crash diet. Many low-carbohydrate diets force the body to break down fat. As this happens your body makes ketones which have a noticeable odor. Extreme diets will produce a stronger odor.[12]
    • If you are planning to diet, but want to be sure that it doesn’t give you bad breath, consult your doctor or a nutritionist to make a plan so that you can both lose weight and prevent bad breath.

Method 3
Combating Bad Breath with Good Dental Hygiene

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    Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day. Use a fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay. Brush for at least two minutes to make sure you have time to thoroughly clean everywhere.[13]
    • Get a new toothbrush every three months. After a lot of usage, a the bristles become bent and are less effective.
    • If you are concerned about the buildup of smelly bacteria during the day, bring a toothbrush to school or work and brush your teeth after lunch.
    • You can also get antibacterial toothpaste.
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    Floss to clean between your teeth. This will remove food particles, plaque, and bacteria that might be hiding there. When bacteria break down food particles that are leftover in your mouth, they sometimes give off unpleasant odors.[14]
    • Floss at least once per day. If you aren’t used to flossing, your gums may bleed a little at first, but after a few days you should be able to floss without bleeding.
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    Reduce bacteria with an antibacterial, anti-odor mouth wash or salt solution. This can be done in addition to brushing. It should not be done as a substitute for brushing.[15][16]
    • Prepare the salt water solution by dissolving 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoons of salt into a cup of water. You probably won’t need all of it, so don’t feel you have to use it all.[17]
    • Some strong mouthwashes and the salt solution may taste unpleasant. If you can stand it, swish the mouthwash or salt solution in your mouth for two minutes.
    • Then gargle for about 30 seconds to one minute. Spit the mixture out without swallowing it. You can rinse your mouth with regular water.
    • Mouthwashes come in different flavors, including mint, which will give your breath a fresh, pleasant odor.
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    Remove excess bacteria from your tongue by brushing or scraping your tongue. The roughness of your tongue makes it an excellent hiding place for small particles of food to get trapped and harbor bacteria.[18]
    • Thoroughly, but gently, scrape from back to front. Don’t reach so far back that you gag yourself. And don’t press so hard that it hurts or irritates your tongue.
    • You can do this either with a tongue scraper or the rough pad that some toothbrushes have on their backs. This will loosen dead cells, bacteria, and food particles that cause bad odors.
    • Use toothpaste to make it taste better and help freshen your breath. Afterwards, wash out your mouth and spit out the material that you’ve scraped up.
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    Rub your tongue with a natural remedy. These methods have not been scientifically tested, but anecdotal evidence suggests that they might help.
    • Brush your tongue with a paste of lemon juice and turmeric using your toothbrush. Use 1/4 of a teaspoon of lemon juice and add tumeric until a paste forms. Both have antibacterial properties.[19]
    • Brush your tongue with a paste of baking soda and lemon juice. Add baking soda to a quarter teaspoon of lemon juice until it has a toothpaste-like consistency.This will also kill bacteria and remove food particles or dead cells that are stuck on your tongue.
    • Don't do this more than once per day.
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    Clean your dentures daily if you wear them. Dentures also provide a surface that can trap food particles and harbor bacteria. Develop a routine for cleaning them:[20]
    • Use soap and warm water, denture cream, or denture tablets to clean them. Toothpaste may damage them and is not recommended.
    • Follow your doctor’s instructions or the manufacturer’s instructions for the cleaning materials that you are using.
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    Quit smoking. Not only does smoking itself have an odor that others will notice, but it lowers your immune system, making you more vulnerable to developing infections in your gums. The bacteria that grow often give off an unpleasant smell. If you need help quitting, you can:[21][22][23]
    • Talk to your doctor
    • See a counselor
    • Attend a support group
    • Get medications
    • Avoid places where you usually smoke
    • Develop alternative methods of stress management, like exercise and relaxation techniques

Method 4
Seeking Medical Care

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    Go to a dentist if making dietary changes and improving your oral hygiene doesn’t help. Getting a teeth cleaning will remove any hard plaques and bacteria that are difficult get when brushing and flossing.[24] Your dentist will also be able to tell you if your bad breath comes from an underlying dental problem such as:[25][26]
    • An abscessed tooth
    • Cavities
    • Gum disease
    • An impacted tooth
    • Periodontal disease
    • Mouth sores
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    Go to a doctor if your dentist recommends it. If your dentist thinks the underlying problem could be a condition that is not related to oral health, he or she may send you to your physician. The physician will look for many different conditions that can cause bad breath, including:[27][28][29]
    • Lung infection or abscess
    • Postnasal drip and inflammation of the nose, sinuses, or throat
    • Chronic kidney failure, which may produce a fishy or urine-like smell
    • Diabetes, which may cause a fruity smell associated with ketoacidosis
    • Gastrojejunocolic fistula which causes a fruity smell
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
    • Certain cancers, like stomach and lung cancer
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    Ask your doctor whether any of your medications may be causing your bad breath. Some cause dry mouth, others may produce chemicals that smell as you metabolize them. If you think your medications are the source, do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor. Your doctor may be able to switch you to another medication that will still treat the condition, but not give you bad breath. Medications that may cause bad breath include:[30][31]
    • Insulin shots
    • Triamterene (Dyrenium)
    • Some medications for convulsive disorders, alcoholism, nervous, and mental conditions
    • Nitrates used to treat chest pain
    • Some chemotherapy medications
    • Some tranquilizers

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Categories: Bad Breath Treatments