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What do I do if I have bad breath (halitosis)?

It is not unusual to have bad breath after a meal or for a day or so from an unknown cause. However, when it lasts longer than that it is an annoying problem. There are many causes and ultimately many solutions.

What should you do right away? Most of us would try a mouthwash but that is a temporary bandaid. There are one or two mouthwashes that claim they work long term. You'll have to see for yourself if they really work. So I've got to say it.... you can't avoid brushing, flossing and cleaning (scraping) your tongue.

In my practice periodontal (gum) issues are the primary source of bad taste and odors. Haven't you ever noticed when you floss that tastes are often released from your gum while flossing? Well, if you don't floss, these flavors caused by food and bacteria will eventually escape on their own and be interpreted by others as foul odors. Brushing your teeth and gums three times a day and flossing once a day are the first steps in controlling bad breath.

A second source of odors is the tongue. When we first started checking patients with the Velscope we found many who were not controlling the bacteria on their tongue. Brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth for three or four strokes. If the odor persists buy a tongue scraper which more thoroughly cleans the tongue.

If improvement is still elusive, it is time to go to the dentist. If it has been more than six months since you have had your teeth cleaned there is no way you can remove everything on your teeth with just brushing and flossing. That goes double for a smoker. Let the hygienist get you back to square one and then your brushing and flossing will be more effective.

Other causes of bad breath include dry mouth, smoking, foods that you eat like onions and garlic, postnasal drip and various other medical problems. These can all be discussed with the dentist who will direct you to the right solution whether it be an enzyme to ease your dry mouth or a visit to your physician.

Unless you are a patient of Dr. Landin's and have seen him very recently, this should not be construed as dental advice but only as information. Please consult your own dentist in regard to your personal situation or condition.

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