How to keep your breath fresh

Almost everyone suffers from bad breath once in a while and it comes in many forms, from the very common early morning bad breath up to persistent bad breath (halitosis).

Bad breath can be the result of tiny bits of food getting stuck in your teeth or it can happen when your mouth is dry, when you smoke, drink alcohol or eat strong tasting foods (onions, garlic, kippers etc).

Your breath can also smell when you have a sinus infection or sometimes when you’re taking certain prescription medicines. It can also be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, throat infections, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), liver and kidney problems, as well as gum disease.

If you have a problem with bad breath – or if you want to make sure you don’t develop one – here are some tips to keep it smelling sweet:

  • Brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash twice a day is obviously a good habit to get into, but don’t neglect your oral hygiene when you’re out and about. Keep a portable toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste in your purse or pocket in case you need a quick freshen-up when you’re away from home.
  • If you’re a smoker, consider giving up, as few things are more likely to cause bad breath than smoking. Ask your pharmacist to tell you about products and support that may be available to help you quit and stay smoke-free.
  • Try to drink plenty of water but avoid too much tea and coffee (both of these can dehydrate the mouth and make your breath smell bitter, while coffee contains acids that can encourage the growth of bacteria).
  • If your breath smells after eating a spicy meal, try rinsing with a deodorising mouthwash (rinse and gargle for at least 30 seconds each time).
  •  For dry mouth problems, make sure you’re drinking enough water. You could also try chewing sugar-free gum, as this stimulates the production of saliva.
  • Most types of mouthwash contain alcohol, which can make your mouth dry or irritated. If this happens to you, ask your pharmacist to recommend an alcohol-free mouthwash.
  • If you have a persistent problem with bad breath and suspect you may have a gum problem, try to see your dentist and dental hygienist on a regular basis. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to tell you about good oral hygiene practice so that you can keep your teeth and gums as clean as possible in between visits.
  • Some oral health professionals also recommend brushing or scraping your tongue. This helps to remove bacteria at the back of the tongue, which can contribute to bad breath.
  • If you have bad breath following a cold, it could be a sign that your sinuses are infected. If you’re not sure, ask your pharmacist for advice, or see your GP. If you do have an infection, you may need antibiotics to clear it up.

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