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7 Things to Know About Your Bad Breath

First, you might not have it
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2017 4:20 PM CDT
7 Things to Know About Your Bad Breath
Conan O'Brien demands that a Mexican tourist check his breath after he ate tacos with hot sauce, on Paseo de la Reforma, in Mexico City, Feb. 20, 2017.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

(Newser) – If you do the old breathe-into-your-cupped hand trick to verify your breath is passable before a big date or meeting, brace yourself for some bad news. The BBC reports it doesn't really work. That's because the huff doesn't push out the breath that occupies the back of your mouth (which is released when you speak). And that's the very area where bad breath (or halitosis) is often generated, thanks to the volatile sulfur compounds that are produced when food and bacteria become trapped there. You could, however, try one of the methods doctors have available to them: smell a spoon that you've scraped across your tongue, or unwaxed floss that you've worked through your back teeth. Read on for 7 myths and tips about bad breath.

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  1. Mouthwash may not be your savior: Sure, the mintiness is nice, but Men's Health reports that if your mouthwash has alcohol in it, you may be doing more harm than good. The alcohol can trigger more dehydration in your mouth, which can worsen breath, so go alcohol-free.
  2. You may not actually have it: ...even if you think you do. To back this up, the BBC cites stats from two studies. One notes that "halitosis has a ... prevalence range of 22% to 50%"; the other looks at 407 people who said they experienced bad breath, but 27.9% of them did not show "detectable signs of breath malodor."
  3. Another way to check: If you don't have a spoon or floss handy and want to know the status of your breath, Today has a solution: Move a clean finger along the rear of your tongue, then wipe the saliva onto the back of your hand. Let it dry for a few seconds, and sniff. If there's odor there, there's odor in your breath.

  1. The basics really help: Plaque can harbor bad breath-causing bacteria; food getting stuck in your teeth can exacerbate things. Brush twice daily, and floss once a day to help eliminate these potential causes, recommends WebMD.
  2. Add another tool in the bathroom: GQ says a tongue scraper can help, and it explains why using science. Bacteriologist Dr. Howard Katz tells the mag that your mouth's bacteria "break down proteins from food ... so that after it'’s swallowed, it is more easily broken down in the gut." But in the course of the breakdown, the aforementioned volatile sulfur compounds are produced. A tongue scraper "removes the sulfur that rises to the surface of the tongue."
  3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: A dry mouth is hospitable to bacteria, so as Lifehacker puts it, "the obvious way to combat this is to drink water regularly."
  4. Keep these foods in mind: Katz offered CNN tips on the foods that can naturally help ward off bad breath. Green tea is one, thanks to its anti-bacterial properties. The essential oils in cinnamon can go after bacteria as well, so go ahead and put a heavy dose on your oatmeal. Katz also recommends firm, crisp fruits and vegetables like celery and apples, which do double duty: Chewing them will increase saliva flow and help scrape away bacteria.
(Read more bad breath stories.)

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