If you’re wondering how to get rid of bad breath, we get it: Halitosis does not leave a good impression. What’s more, it’s often hard to tell if your own breath smells bad—and is there anything more nerve-wracking than thinking “oh shit, does my breath stink?” mid-conversation? Luckily, there’s a lot you can do, and a solid oral hygiene routine will be enough for sweet breath for 99% of people.
It must be said that some people have genetically bad breath, and these individuals can build plans with their doctor to get ahead of any such chronic condition. (This also means that the medicated mouthwashes and toothpastes available primarily for these guys are options for the rest of us, too.)
Read on to learn what causes bad breath in the first place, followed by 10 key steps for how to get rid of bad breath.
What Causes Bad Breath
While things like coffee, smoking, garlic, and onions are inherently pungent, the major contributing factors to true bad breath: Not cleaning your mouth routinely (by which we mean flossing and brushing as well as seeing the dentist for cleaning) and dehydration. That’s because the real cause of bad breath is the bacteria that thrive in dry environments and proliferate when our mouth is parched. Oral bacteria are mostly good, since they help break down the proteins in our food, but they also produce a nasty smelling sulfur, hence why the regular cleaning is so imperative.
Sudden and persistent bad breath can be a sign of a bigger problem, too, like gum disease (likely from plaque buildup). Make sure you’re going to the dentist regularly, in other words.
How to Prevent and Get Rid of Bad Breath
With the above in mind, here are 10 ways to keep your breath as fresh as possible, so long as you stay on top of things.
1. Brush Often, Floss Nightly
You need to floss every night and brush at least two times a day (once in the morning, once before bed, and as needed or desired throughout). This not only protects your teeth and gums from rotting and stains, but it removes the food particles and the bacterial waste (the sulfur) that procure a stench.
2. Stay Hydrated
There are so many reasons to stay hydrated: For good skin, for healthy hair, for healthy bodily function… your breath is no different. The drier your mouth, the more stinky things get, thanks to those sulfurous bacteria.
And speaking of morning breath, here’s a strategy for waking up with kissable morning breath: Drink a glass of water before bed. Yes, it might trigger you to wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak, but it gives you another chance to drink a small amount of water, to keep things hydrated. Assuming you can fall back to sleep easily, it also adds the major benefit of staying hydrated around the clock.
3. Choose Better Gum
Chewing gum helps stimulate saliva production, which helps break down food particles and keeps the mouth moist. Pick a sugar-free gum, and one that uses cinnamon or xylitol. Xylitol naturally sweetens the gum, and prevents bacteria from binding to teeth. (This also helps prevent tooth decay.) Cinnamon, on the other hand, kills the odorous bacteria in the first place.