There’s little more embarrassing than having bad breath, particularly in social or professional situations where you’re interacting with people in close quarters. Bad breath can sour a date or make a meeting uncomfortable, not to mention that most people don’t enjoy the self consciousness and foul taste in the mouth that accompanies it.

And if your bad breath is more than occasional, you might even be suffering from its chronic form: Halitosis.

If you’re suffering from bad breath, what can you do to fix it? Here are a few suggestions to get your mouth minty fresh so you can focus on more important things during conversations — like what you’re actually saying!

A young man brusing his toungue to help fight bad breath

Nail Down Oral Hygiene Basics

If you’re not brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily, this is an important first step. Over the course of the day, food particles and bacteria start to stick to your teeth. If you don’t clean them off, that sticky film, called plaque, can harden into something called tartar, which can only be removed by your dentist.

This bacteria- and food-filled mess on your teeth has a distinctly unpleasant odor, and can contribute to bad breath. Brushing and flossing can clear plaque away from your teeth, and the bad smell with it.

Take Your Oral Hygiene to the Next Level

If brushing and flossing simply isn’t cutting it, there’s more you can do. A lot of those smell-causing bacteria stick to the mucus coating on your tongue, so gently cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush or a special tongue scraper can make a big difference in terms of how your mouth smells and tastes.

Just make sure not to add mouthwash into your routine! Despite extravagant claims from mouthwash companies (and a superficial “minty freshness” that’s actually just masking your mouth’s real odor), mouthwash can actually make bad breath worse. Some mouthwashes contain up to 25% alcohol, which dries out the mouth. Since saliva helps keep your mouth clean and wash away bacteria, drying out the mouth can give bacteria a boost, making your breath even more toxic.

Quit Smoking

If you’re a smoker, you probably know that the smell of tobacco products alone can make your breath unpleasant for those around you. But did you know that it isn’t just the smoke smell that worsens your bad breath? Tobacco, like alcohol, has a tendency to dry out the saliva production in your mouth, which can allow bacteria to run rampant. So even if your breath doesn’t smell like smoke, you may still be suffering from bad breath as a result of bacteria.

Still Have Bad Breath?

If you make all these changes and find that you still have bad breath, it’s likely that your breath is a symptom or more serious oral health problems. The smelliest bacteria thrive in places where oxygen is scarce, like deep inside an infected tooth or below your gum line. So if your breath isn’t resolving, it may be a sign that you need root canal therapy or gum disease treatment.

If you’re dealing with chronic bad breath, the best thing you can do is talk to your dentist about it. While it may be a simple problem of oral hygiene, it could also be a sign of serious oral health problems. Call (803) 781-9090 or contact us online to make an appointment and learn more about bad breath and how to solve it.