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Front Page » July 16, 2009 » Focus on health » Effective ways to banish that stubborn bad breath
Published 1,895 days ago

Effective ways to banish that stubborn bad breath


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One of the first things many people notice about other people is their smile. A beautiful smile can make a strong first impression and boost an individual's confidence as well.

But as strong an impression as a beautiful smile can make, the breath behind that smile is equally important. Bad breath, for example, can quickly negate a good smile, no matter how beautiful it is. While what you eat plays a role in whether or not you have bad breath, other factors influence how your breath smells as well.

Certain lifestyle habits strongly influence an individual's breath. People who do not brush or floss daily, for instance, are far more likely to have bad breath. That's because food particles remain in the teeth after eating, promoting the growth of bacteria between teeth, on the tongue and around the gums. That bacterial growth results in bad breath.

Another factor that contributes to bad breath is smoking or chewing tobacco. Tobacco-based products are very detrimental to a person's oral hygiene, causing bad breath but potentially contributing to gum irritation, stained teeth and a reduced ability to taste foods as well.

Bad breath isn't always a reflection of a person's diet or lifestyle choices. Sometimes bad breath might be indicative of a larger issue such as gum disease. As plaque builds up on the teeth, the resulting bacteria cause toxins to form in the mouth. Those toxins irritate the gums. While gum irritation is often painful enough, allowing it to go untreated can result in worse problems, including damage to the jawbone.

Other ailments can contribute to bad breath as well. In addition to diabetes, liver or kidney problems can contribute to bad breath, as can chronic respiratory problems such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Acid reflux can also contribute to bad breath.

While there's no guaranteed way to banish bad breath forever, there are ways to reduce or prevent it.

•Stop smoking. Smokers or people who chew tobacco can greatly reduce their risk for bad breath by quitting. While that's easier said than done, it's as close to a guarantee to reducing bad breath as smokers will find.

•Stay hydrated. Dry mouth often results in bad breath, so staying hydrated by drinking lots of water can reduce bad breath. Also, chewing sugarless gum can stimulate the production of saliva, helping to keep the mouth moist in the process.

•Visit the dentist. Many people fear the dentist's chair, but visiting the dentist at least twice a year can greatly reduce the risk of bad breath. A dentist can give a thorough cleaning and will be able to monitor and detect the common problems that contribute to bad breath, such as gum disease or dry mouth.

•Remember mom and dad's advice. Mom and dad always said to brush twice per day and floss after meals, and that advice is as true today as it was back then. In addition to brushing your teeth, brush your tongue as well. And be sure to replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months, or when it begins to look frayed, whichever comes first.

To learn more about oral hygiene, visit the American Dental Association Web site at www.ada.org.

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