Maybe your wife has had it with your toe-curling morning breath. Or maybe your too-blunt kid has commented on your funky fumes mere hours after you brushed. Or, maybe you just want some breath-bettering knowledge to share with your colleagues over coffee. (But then again, if you want better breath, you should cut back on the coffee) Regardless of motive, you’re here to make the world a less pungent place (and be the least repulsive family representative you can be) Here are some suggestions and product recommendations (such as a gum that stays fresh for an hour) to help kick bad breath for good.
Use a Tongue Scraper
Bad breath is often caused by bacteria. They’re burrowing into your tongue, which is the perfect environment given its warmth, texture (for the burrowing), and moisture. The bacteria reproduce rapidly and also create a sulfuric substance; if you’ve ever smelled sulfur, you understand how this leads to bad breath.
After a long day, sans brushing, take a look at the surface of your tongue. You might notice there’s a fuzzy film over the top. Don’t fret—the bacteria on your tongue are good for you, but they tend to get out of control. You can manage them with a simple device: a tongue scraper. It’s got a metal wire or blunt plastic bar, attached to a handle that you gently pull forward, scraping the excess bacteria and byproduct away.
Do this once in the morning, once at night, before brushing. Then, when you brush the teeth, give the tongue a once-over with your brush and toothpaste as well, to really freshen things up.
Why do you wake up with such rank breath? Because you don’t produce as much saliva while you sleep. And since the saliva helps break down food particles and dead cells in the mouth, that means there’s more stuff rotting in there while your mouth dries up. Staying fully hydrated during the day helps decrease the odds of oral dehydration at night. Better yet, drink a glass of water before bed. Sure you might have to wake up to pee a bit more, but the added benefit here is that you’re bettering the odds of not napalming your partner with a toxic kiss.
Upgrade Your Arsenal
You’re (hopefully) already brushing 2-3 times a day and using mouthwash to thwart germs and an over colonization of bacteria. Good on you. Now, take that up a notch.
Toothbrush: Instead of using a sad toothbrush well past its wear, find a subscription program that automatically replenishes your bristles every three months (that’s dentists’ universally agreed-upon shelf life for a brush). We like Goby’s electric toothbrushes. The high powered brushes power wash our teeth and the company automatically ships a new brush head when you’re due for one.
Toothpaste: We’re so preoccupied with whitening agents in our toothpastes that we neglect what is hygienically important: Removing plaque, plus protecting teeth and gums. Focus on this and you’ll also lessen your odds of bad breath from plaque buildup and gum disease. Invest in a top-shelf gel like Liv Free, which packs antioxidants and, unlike many drugstore brands, lacks harsh detergents, giving you the cleanest — and most hygienic — smile.
Mouth Rinse: Skip any alcohol-based mouth rinses. These will dry out your mouth, nullifying the work that your saliva does to break down food particles and keep you hydrated. Instead, grab a pro-saliva, alcohol-free rinse. We like Therabreath, which stimulates saliva production to keep your breath fresh all day or through the night.
Gum: If you need an instant fix for that post-lunch business meeting, don’t skimp on a single-purpose gum—its flavor will wear within minutes. Instead, stock up on a sugar-free chewable like Confadent that combats plaque, employs baking soda (to lighten stained teeth), and lasts an hour before losing its minty scent.
Never Skip the Floss
Just don’t. The bacteria in the mouth loooove breaking down the little food particles that linger. If you leave a little steak between the canine and premolar, then, well, you’re gonna activate those little buggers even more. So, get everything out of there and on its way into your gut, where another bacterial colony awaits its feast.
Watch Your Diet
Your odds of better breath are bettered by a strict diet. First of all, alcohol and caffeine will dehydrate the body. We’ve already discussed how dehydration decreases saliva production, which in turn leads to bad breath. So…scale back on the coffee and stouts. Foods high in protein will yield greater sulfur production by the bacteria in your mouth. More sulfur means more stench. Finally, sugary and acidic foods cause the bacteria in your mouth to reproduce rapidly, which then magnifies the sulfur emissions. So if you’re worried about your fiery breath, make them occasional treats. Oh, and garlic and onions… those just inherently stink.