Most common cases of halitosis can be prevented with these easy tips.

Stay hydrated. If you can't brush your teeth after a meal, drinking water can speed the process of cleaning bacteria and debris from between your teeth.  To keep your saliva flowing throughout the day, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. You also could stimulate saliva production by using artificial saliva substitutes such as Biotene.

Don't drink too much coffee. Coffee is a difficult smell to remove from your mouth.  You can freshen your breath by rinsing your mouth with water after drinking your morning coffee.  This will help rebalance your mouth's pH levels. Rinsing with water also works after meals.  Swishing the water around may help remove the food particles left in your mouth after a meal and prevent bad breath.

Avoid soda and other sugary beverages.  Consuming an acidic beverage, including soda, coffee, or alcohol, will release compounds into your bloodstream that will, in turn, release odors through your breath. Plus, acidic drinks lower the pH level in your mouth: a lower pH level allows caries causing bacteria to flourish and release volatile sulfur compounds.  Rinsing with water also helps with sugary beverages as well.    

Chew sugarless gum. Doing so within an hour after a meal can help with saliva flow. Remember to use sugar-free gum -- chewing gum with sugar increases caries and the sugar sits on your teeth and contributes to bad breath.  Your mouth can become dry during the day.  Dry mouth -- whether it's at midnight or noon -- can quickly cause bad breath. You need plenty of saliva because it helps clean your mouth; it's naturally antibacterial, and it washes away food particles.

Sugarless breath mints. Sugar-free mints won't help treat the cause of bad breath but help to temporarily mask the odor.  Avoid products that contain sugar to prevent the accumulation of plaque.

Prevent bad breath by brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day. Remember to brush your tongue to remove any trapped food and plaque caught on the surface of your tongue.  Then rinse thoroughly with water or mouthwash.

Don't smoke or use other tobacco products. These can foul your breath.

Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol can lead to a dry mouth. Too much beer, wine, and hard liquor can make your breath reek for up to eight to ten hours after you finish drinking.

Prevent bad breath by visiting your dentist on a regular basis for a complete examination of your teeth and gums and a thorough cleaning.  Preventing bad breath is achievable when you have dental problems treated as they occur, such as tooth decay, gum abscesses, and abscessed teeth.  The American Dental Association recommends that children and adults have a professional cleaning regularly. For most, twice a year should suffice. For others who experience tartar buildup more quickly, four times a year may be necessary.

It's also possible that your bad breath is caused by a medical condition, not just the bacteria in your mouth. Although mouth odor is often associated with gum disease or tooth decay, it can occasionally signal health problems such as respiratory or sinus infections, bronchitis, diabetes, or malfunctions of the liver or kidney.  Bad breath is also linked to stress, stomach problems, low fluid intake, and other conditions, so if your bad breath persists, consult a physician to see if an underlying problem exists.

Dr. Lily Ling received her DMD from Tufts Dental School and completed an advanced education in general dentistry  (AEGD) residency at UConn Health Center.

Sherborn Family Dental
19 N. Main St., Ste 1B
Sherborn, MA 01770

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