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Bad breath

Brushing teeth.

When you open your mouth to talk, you probably want your friends to think about what you’re saying — and not about what you ate for lunch. But certain strong-smelling foods like onions and garlic can cause bad breath. So can smoking. And so can bacteria that grow on bits of food that get stuck between your teeth.

Lots of people have bad breath at some point. Don’t worry! There are steps you can take to keep your mouth fresh and healthy.

Tips for preventing bad breath:
  • Brush your teeth (and tongue!) for at least two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after meals and at bedtime.
  • Ask your dentist how to floss correctly. Flossing can remove tiny bits of food that can rot and smell bad.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
  • Visit your dentist twice a year. He or she will help keep your teeth and your mouth healthy.
  • Eat smart. Avoid foods and drinks that can leave behind strong smells, like cabbage, garlic, raw onions, and coffee. If you’re trying to lose weight, remember that not eating enough or cutting out certain foods (such as carbohydrates) can cause bad breath.
  • Don’t smoke! You’ll smell sweeter — and be lots healthier. Check out more reasons not to smoke.
  • Drink enough fluids. Drinking helps wash away tiny bits of food and bacteria, which can smell bad.

If your bad breath doesn’t go away, be sure to talk to your dentist, doctor, or nurse. It could be a sign of a medical problem, such as a sinus infection or gum disease. You may feel a little funny talking about bad breath, but it’s very common and you can get help.

Tips for keeping your mouth healthy:

A lot of the tips for keeping your mouth healthy are the same as the tips for stopping bad breath, such as brushing and flossing. Below are some more tips for good oral hygiene, which is just a fancy way to say taking care of your teeth and mouth. Do you feel like they are a pain? Well, they are a lot less of a pain than the dentist’s drill!

  • Eat smart. Avoid sugary foods and drinks. This helps prevent damage to your teeth and is great for your overall health.
  • Brush after sweets. If you eat or drink sugary stuff, try to brush right after. If you can’t brush, at least rinse your mouth with water.
  • Definitely don’t smoke. Smoking doesn’t just smell bad and stain your teeth. It also can increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

 

Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated May 27, 2014

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