Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1278, (14 - 20 January 2016)
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1278, (14 - 20 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Entre Nous: Beat that bad breath

Let’s talk about better living! Our interactive family corner aims to expand our lifestyle horizons with practical little pearls of wisdom from the editor and input from our readers

No doubt it’s embarrassing when someone points out that you have bad breath or politely offers you a mint with a smile. All you can do then is swallow that mint along with your pride.

But there are ways to improve your breath and avoid such awkward situations in future. Much like any bodily odour, halitosis can be tackled with good hygiene. Try these simple steps to make your mouth feel fresh and clean.

Brush and floss more often: Good oral care is your first and easiest line of defence. Cavities, tooth decay and gum disease can all be underlying causes of odour. Dentists advise to brush twice a day and floss at least once to remove the plaque and bacteria that accumulate on your teeth and under your gum line. But don’t overdo things. If you brush too hard, you can wear down your teeth, making them more vulnerable to decay.

Rinse your mouth out: Besides freshening your breath, a mouthwash adds extra protection by getting rid of bacteria. A fresh minty taste can also make you feel good. But be sure the mouthwash you choose kills the germs that cause bad breath. You can also help your breath if you swish your mouth out with plain water after you eat. This can get rid of food particles that get stuck in your teeth.

Scrape your tongue: The fleshy surface of the tongue is a prime breeding ground for harmful bacteria and accounts for a large percentage of halitosis cases, but most people neglect this crucial area. To get rid of those smelly bacteria, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush. If the brush is too big to comfortably reach the back of your tongue, you can try a scraper instead.

Avoid foods that sour your breath: Onions and garlic are big offenders here. But brushing after you eat them doesn’t help. The substances that cause their bad smells make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out. The best way to stop the problem is not to eat them at all, or at least to avoid them before you go to work or see friends.

Go sugar-free: Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead. The bacteria in your mouth love sugar, and they use it to make acid. This wears down your teeth and causes bad breath. Chewing gum stimulates saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defence mechanism against plaque acids that cause tooth decay and bad breath. So stick with sugar-free solutions.
 
Keep your gums healthy: Gum disease causes bad breath. Bacteria can gather in pockets at the base of teeth, which creates an odour.

Chew on cardamom: This sweet exotic spice has antibacterial properties and has long been used as a natural breath freshener. Chew on a few cardamom seeds as an alternative to mints and gum, or try fennel seeds, another herbal remedy known to work on bad breath.

Take a tea break: Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the US has shown that polyphenols, chemical components found in black and green tea, can prevent the growth of the bacteria responsible for bad breath as well as the bacteria’s production of putrid smelling compounds.

Avoid low-carb, high-protein diets: They may be the cause of that killer bad breath, according to an analysis by the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine in the US. The key to these diets is a fat-burning state known as ketosis. This is when your body burns stored fats to use as fuel when you cut down on your carb intake. As the fat burns, chemicals called ketones accumulate in the body and are released into your breath. Since this is a metabolic issue originating in your stomach and not in your mouth, there’s not much you can do other than modify your diet.

Moisten your mouth: Your saliva contains vital protective enzymes that help kill bad bacteria, so a dry mouth could be contributing to your smelly situation. Drink plenty of water during the day. Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free sweets.

Stop smoking: Besides causing cancer, smoking can damage your gums, stain your teeth and give you bad breath.

See your dentist: It’s recommended to schedule a regular dental check-up and professional cleaning twice a year. But if you still have bad breath despite your best efforts, then it’s time to pay your dentist a quick visit to find out if your problems are related to a medical condition.

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