Bad Breath: How It Works

Conquer the underlying causes of bad breath and speak with confidence.

By Ted Spiker from Reader's Digest | September 2008
Bad Breath clipart.comStinky breath? Blame bacteria.

Don’t reach for those curiously strong mints. Most halitosis is caused not by smelly foods but by anaerobic bacteria in your mouth, which produce stinky volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). The bacteria buildup can come from gum disease, tooth decay, dry mouth, and sinus problems.

To conquer these underlying causes:

     

  • 1.

    Brush and floss twice a day,

    and see your dentist regularly for cleanings.

  • 2.

    Use a tongue scraper twice a day.

    “Think of the tongue as a carpet. Some people have shags that are harder to keep clean,” says Anthony Dailley, DDS, of the Center for Breath Treatment near San Francisco.

  • 3.

    Use a neti pot

    (a teapot-like container that rinses and cleans the nasal cavity) or a higher-tech electronic sinus irrigator (a water pick for your nose).

  • 4.

    Don't use alcohol-based mouthwashes

    They dry out the mouth, says Dr. Dailley, making the problem worse. Drink lots of water to flush the bacteria away.

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