Fix It: Bad Breath Busters

Here's another reader-submitted question (keep them coming!) from my inbox:

"Please help. I'm trying to not be vain but I have bad breath for years. I'm a regular teeth brusher and I floss every night. I've been to my dentist and he told me to try sugar-free mints. Isn't there anything else I can do? It's been a little tough on my social life..."

Rest assured, you are not being vain. In addition to being socially unacceptable or embarrassing, bad breath can signal a serious medical problem such as a bowel disorder or periodontal disease. Because your situation has persisted for so long, please speak to your doctor and/or dentist as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I explained your situation to my dentist and she suggested three things that may help:

1. Our tongues can accumulate odor-causing bacterial plaque much like our teeth do. So, when you're brushing your teeth, don't stop there. Brush your tongue too. You can remove the plaque with a soft-bristle toothbrush (there are even some toothbrushes with attached tongue-cleaners) or a tongue scraper.

2. Are you a gum chewer? If so, chomp on some cinnamon-flavored gum containing the germ fighting oil, Cinnamic Aldehyde.

3. If neither of the above does the trick, mouthwash can kill most odor-causing bacteria but, be aware, some of the stronger mouthwashes or other products with alcohol may irritate your gums.

Note: The information provided here is not meant to replace a visit to your health care provider. He or she knows you, and your medical history, better than anyone. We strongly encourage you to speak with your health care professional about your particular health concerns.

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