Do you find people stepping away from you when you talk? Are you constantly popping breath mints or gum to make sure your breath doesn't offend others in the room? Do you have a foul taste in your mouth on a regular basis that you can't get rid of no matter how much you brush?

Bad breath or halitosis can be caused by many things. Some diseases such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, although this is not very common. It can also be caused by sinus and/or tonsil infection or food becoming stuck in the surface of large tonsils which actually happens more than you can imagine. Gastric reflux disease often goes undiagnosed in patients and can also be the source of your offensive breath. Foods that you eat like garlic or onions will cause breath but that should only last until that food is cleared from your body (about 12-24 hours). Smoking is obviously another culprit.

The most common cause of bad breath, however, is poor oral hygiene. The mouth is full of microscopic bacteria that colonize the oral tissues as plaque. If this plaque is not removed from your teeth, gums and tongue on a regular basis, the bacteria will produce bi-products that smell bad and consequently you will end up with a bad taste in your mouth and/or halitosis. The best way to prevent it is to brush your teeth and gums at least two times per day as well as floss or use a waterflosser to remove bacteria from in between the teeth and pockets around your teeth. Scraping or brushing the tongue is also essential. The surface of the tongue is very irregular with lots of fissures for bacteria to hide. You can ask your dentist for a tongue scraper at your next check up appointment or use your toothbrush to clean the surface from back to front. They are also available in the oral care section of your favorite drug store. If you have xerostomia or dry mouth, the plaque will stick to your oral tissues more easily and build up quickly.....there are products on the market to help with this as well.

An antibacterial mouthwash like Listerine or Crest ProHealth can also be used to help keep the bacterial counts low....not all mouthrinses are antibacterial.

Remember to visit your dentist on a regular basis for cleanings to remove plaque that has calcified into 'tartar' as this is allows plaque to accumulate on the teeth quickly. The dental team can guide you toward the techniques and products necessary to get your breath smelling fresh in no time.

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