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Frequently Asked Questions

I brush my teeth constantly but I still have bad breath. What can I do?Picture

Brushing and flossing your teeth are crucial first steps to eliminating bad breath. Brushing and flossing remove bacteria responsible for creating odorous sulfur compounds as well as remove the food particles that bacteria feed on.

Bacteria, however, hide not only on the teeth but also on the tongue under a layer of mucous, food, and debris. Here they are free to once again create odorous sulfur compounds.

A tongue cleaner is extremely effective at removing this protective mucous, food, and debris layer from the tongue exposing the offending bacteria.

The new weapons against bad breath are special toothpastes containing chlorine dioxide. The chlorine dioxide effectively destroys bad breath particles, instead of simply covering up the odor of these particles. This means fresher breath that lasts hours longer.

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A friend told me that my breath smelled. When I tried to smell my own breath I didn't smell anything particularly offensive.

It is almost impossible for people to determine if their own breath offends. We become accustomed to our own odors and thus unable to tell what is offensive and what is not.

Cupping our hands over our mouths and trying to smell our breath is ineffective. This is because we often don't produce bad breath until we talk. Talking forces out foul breath from the back of the mouth where the vast majority of bad breath is produced.

The best way to determine if you have bad breath is to ask a trusted friend or loved one.

Someone told me that sugarless gum can help with bad breath. How is this possible?

Yes, sugarless gum can help with bad breath by stimulating saliva flow. Saliva acts as a natural mouthwash cleansing the teeth of bacteria and the food particles that bacteria feed on. Additionally, saliva dissolves the volatile sulfur particles which cause bad breath.

I have tried several mouthwashes but none of them seem particular effective at helping my bad breath.

At the very best, conventional mouthwashes only temporarily mask bad breath. In most cases, the alcohol found in mouthwashes dries out the mouth making it more hospitable to odor causing bacteria.

A new breed of mouthwashes containing chlorine dioxide is effective in treating bad breath. Instead of masking odor, the chlorine dioxide in these mouthwashes attacks the odor causing volatile sulfur compounds at the molecular level.

I am a teacher and I have to talk a lot during the day. Unfortunately, it seems that the longer I talk the more my breath smells.

This is often a common problem for people whose jobs require them to talk constantly. Lawyers, professors, and salespeople, for example, often encounter bad breath. Talking dries the mouth making it more friendly for bacteria which cause bad breath. The more one talks the drier the mouth becomes and the more odor causing bacteria proliferate.

Drinking water can keep the mouth moist and also stimulates saliva flow. If you can't drink water a drop of lemon placed on the tip of the tongue can stimulate saliva flow moistening the mouth and making it less hospitable for odor causing bacteria.

For some reason I get bad breath before my menstrual period. Am I the only one who experiences this?

It is common for women to produce bad breath during their menstrual cycle. Hormonal changes make the gums more hospitable to odor causing bacteria.

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In addition, prior to menstruation, tiny capillaries which run through the gums become more fragile and tend to burst releasing small quantities of blood into the gums. Bacteria feed on this blood creating odorous volatile sulfur particles.

Every once and a while I "cough" or "hack up" these little white particles that smell like concentrated bad breath. The things smell so bad that I am afraid there may be some underlying condition that I am unaware of.

The little white particles that you are coughing up are called tonsilloliths and except for their bad smell are not a condition to be worried about. Tonsilloliths form when mucus, bacteria, and debris condense into small particles on the surface of the tonsils. These odorous balls of material are sometimes coughed up. Having tonsilloliths does not automatically mean that your breath is offensive as tonsilloliths contribute very little to bad breath.