Kiss bad breath goodbye

by Henrylito D. Tacio

Bad breath can be embarrassing, socially disabling, and even affect relationships. But how horrible is your halitosis, as experts call it?   Here’s one idea: Lick the inside of your wrist and allow it to dry – then sniff.  You’ll soon know if you need to act quickly.

Bad breath can be caused by a number of things: strong foods, tooth decay, smoking, dry mouth, sinus problems, gum disease, poor oral hygiene.   But there are few things you can do to kiss that nasty halitosis goodbye:

·   Don’t dine with the garlic family .  Garlic-spiced foods linger long after the party’s over.  “Since garlic breath can lead to social disharmony and embarrassment, it should be avoided one day before an important date or occasion,” advices Dr MK Guo, a dentistry professor at the National Taiwan University Hospital.  Aside from garlic, other foods that must be shunned include onions and hot peppers.

·  Avoid cheese before the big event.   If you are going to have a date or an interview, keep away from cheese and other dairy products as they get fermented by the bacteria found in the mouth.   “But the bad breath caused by these dairy products can be easily cured by regular oral hygiene method,” Dr Guo points out.

·  Always carry a toothbrush . “Because the main cause of bad breath is the break-down of food components producing foul-smelling gases, brushing will remove the bulk of the food in the mouth,” says Dr Eugene Tang Kok Weng, a private practitioner who is also the immediate past president of Singapore Dental Association.

· Rinse your mouth out .  If you forget to bring your toothbrush, you can at the very least rinse your mouth with plain water.   “Rinsing with water will help to dislodge many of the bigger pieces of food which will reduce the bulk of food remaining inside the oral cavity,” says Dr Tang.

·  Brush your tongue .  This is the most overlooked way of eliminating bad breath.  “But your dentist is the best person to assess whether you need to buy a special tongue scraper to brush and remove those substances that causes bad breath,” explains Dr Tang.

·  Stick with water .  Avoid the following: beer, whiskey, and wine. “Only water or alcohol-free mouth rinses is advised if you already have halitosis,” says Dr Tang.   “Any beverage that contains alcohol dries up the mouth and worsens the halitosis.”

·  Chew a mint or some gum.  “Mint can partly cover some odor from the mouth,” says Dr Guo.   “Gum chewing will take food debris away from the teeth and stimulates salivary secretion by which the food debris can be wash away and prevent some bad odor from the mouth.”

·  Clean your dentures.   Since dentures can absorb odors in the mouth, brush them regularly.   Another way is to dip your dentures into oxidising liquids (made by dissolving an oxidising tablet available in supermarkets in water) and leaving the dentures for a few hours each time.   “This will help to keep the fitting surfaces of the dentures clean,” Dr Tang says. – ###

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