Bad breath is the cause of many embarrassing social situations. Even if you have good dental hygiene, you can still manage to have a problem with halitosis. Here’s how to get rid of “dragon breath” by looking at common causes and how to treat it.

Toothpaste

Does your toothpaste keep your teeth from yellowing? Does it clean well? Do you have sensitive teeth? Sometimes, you might have to change what you’ve been using to suit your unique dental needs.

Toothbrush

Perhaps just as important as toothpaste is your toothbrush, which you need to change every few months. If you have sensitive gums or small teeth, you’ll do best with a soft-bristled brush. People with braces will do better with firmer bristles, while those with implants have special brushes.

Floss

Using floss or a Waterpik will get all the food particles from between your teeth and any remaining sticky film of bacterial plaque. Floss your teeth right after brushing for best results.

Tongue

Believe it or not, your tongue traps a lot of plaque on it. Try scraping your tongue with a tongue scraper or a toothbrush where the back of the brush head functions as a tongue scraper. Notice how much better your tongue looks after scraping it? That leftover plaque is one of the causes of bad breath.

Mouthwash

Mouthwash is also important because it’s the last thing you’ll use to clean your mouth with. Popular mouthwashes that keep your breath smelling clean and fresh are whitening and plaque-fighting ones (which have hydrogen peroxide, fluoride or triclosan) and those with essential oils. They also keep plaque off your teeth for longer and act as a sort of dental protection.

Food

Onion and garlic are the worst offenders, because of their powerful odor. They linger even after you brush your teeth, especially if you are settling for bed. That’s because their odor-causing substances get into your body, your digestive system, and even your lungs.

Tobacco

Not only does tobacco stain your teeth and erode your gums, but it gives you bad breath. That goes for both cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Go for nicotine patches, nicotine gum or a prescription anti-smoking medication.

Candy

Sweets cause a buildup of plaque that becomes thick and sticky on your teeth. Hard and sticky candies (such as caramels) are the most stubborn to remove.

Dry Mouth

The inside of your mouth is supposed to be moist with saliva. Saliva actually has some antibacterial properties to heal wounds and infections and kill viruses. That’s because it pulls microorganisms into the digestive system and boosts oral immunity. So if your mouth is dry, try chewing gum to stimulate saliva flow, stop tobacco and alcohol-containing mouthwashes, and limit your caffeine intake.

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