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Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
 PREVENT PROBLEMS
Small BoxAll About Cavities
Small BoxBrushing and Flossing
Small BoxFluoride
Small BoxMouth-Healthy Eating
Small BoxSealants
Small BoxTaking Care of Your Teeth
Small BoxTobacco
Small BoxYour Dental Visit
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 CONDITIONS
Small BoxBad Breath
Small BoxCavities
Small BoxCold Sores
Small BoxDry Mouth
Small BoxImpacted Tooth
Small BoxSensitive Teeth
Small BoxTMJ
Small BoxTooth Discoloration
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 TREATMENTS
Small BoxCrowns
Small BoxDentures
Small BoxFillings: The Basics
Small BoxGum Surgery
Small BoxImplants
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Small BoxScaling and Root Planing
Small BoxWhitening
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 GENERAL TOPICS
Small BoxControlling Pain
Small BoxCosmetic Dentistry
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Small BoxFill, Repair, Replace
Small BoxKids And Teens
Small BoxOral Health and Your Body
Small BoxOrthodontics
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Step 1 Prevent ProblemsSimplestepsPrevent Problems
Step 2 Understand ConditionsSimplestepsUnderstand Conditions
Step 3 Explore TreatmentsSimplestepsExplore Treatments

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Q: What can I do about bad breath?
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November 17, 2014
A:

The first thing to do is figure out why you have bad breath. Many factors can cause it:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Dry mouth
  • Certain foods (coffee, garlic, onions)
  • Infection in the mouth, tonsils, gastrointestinal tract, sinuses or lungs
  • Certain diseases, such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease

Finding the cause will help direct you to an appropriate treatment.

Most bad breath is a result of bacteria that produce certain chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide. These bacteria survive on the back of your tongue, in your throat, on your tonsils, in between your teeth and in gaps between your teeth and gums.

When these bacteria digest proteins, they release hydrogen sulfide and other compounds.

You cannot get rid of all of these bacteria. But you can reduce their numbers. Brush with toothpaste after meals, and floss to remove food debris. Remember to brush your tongue as well.

Your saliva also helps reduce the number of bacteria. People with dry mouths can chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate saliva production. For long-term dry mouth, your dentist can prescribe artificial saliva.

Besides reducing the number of bacteria in your mouth, research suggests that compounds in both green and black tea may stop the growth of the bacteria responsible for bad breath. These compounds are called polyphenols. They also may reduce the compounds produced by the bacteria.

You also can try using a mouthwash containing zinc ions. Zinc appears to neutralize the odor of the compounds.

You also can try avoiding foods with strong smells, such as garlic and onions.

If you follow these suggestions but they do not seem to work, then your problem may be caused by an infection or a disease. If this is the case, you should be checked out by your doctor.

If you try these suggestions and no infection or disease could be causing your bad breath, talk with your dentist.

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Kids & Teens
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