How to tell if you have bad breath (and how to fix it)
Remember that time that woman grimaced in your face, fell to the floor holding her nose, choking back tears and begging for a gas mask?
Maybe it wasn’t that bad. But you may have, at one point or another, noticed someone pull away or turn up their nose as you spoke to them, indicating that your breath may have been slightly offensive.
It can be embarrassing, but there a few ways to pre-empt such a situation. Here’s how to find out if you have bad breath.
1. Ask someone
The quickest way is to ask someone you love, or, more likely, someone who loves you enough to still love you after they’ve smelled your bad breath.
2. The saliva test
Lick the inside of your wrist, leave it for a minute, then smell it. If you have bad breath, the sulphur salts will transfer to your skin and will smell, well, bad.
3. Buy a bad breath kit
There’s actually such a thing as a bad breath kit, where you lick a strip and if it comes out clear, your breath is sweet.
4. Bad taste
If you have a bad taste in your mouth, chances are your breath is also bad. To double check, breathe into your cupped hands and sniff. If you’re still standing afterwards, you’re probably okay, but a stick of gum wouldn’t go astray.
5. Cotton on
Wipe the back of your tongue with a cotton ball and smell it. If it’s rank, then your breath is too. You may even notice a yellow stain on the cotton wool. Suffice to say, this isn’t a good sign – too much sulphide in your mouth means odour coming out.
6. Dental floss
You can also do the cotton ball test using dental floss, instead.
7. The mirror test
Better still, before doing any of the more distasteful lick and sniff tests, just check your tongue in the mirror. Stick out your tongue, and if there’s a white film present, it may indicate bacteria that cause, you guessed it, bad breath.
If you don’t have a mirror handy, grab a spoon and gently scrape the back of your tongue. If there’s a white bio-film on the spoon, sniff it. If it smells, give your teeth a clean and your tongue a gentle scrape, too.
9. Get to a dentist
If you really want conclusive proof of your halitosis, then get to a dentist. They can do a ‘halimeter test’, which is an instrument that measures the sulphides in your mouth. It’s a true test of bad breath – one that cannot be refuted.
And here’s how to fix it
Now you know that you have bad breath, there are some simple steps to fix it. Although, you may have a problem that cannot be solved by these regular methods and, if that’s the case, you may need to see a dentist or doctor.
1. Brush those teeth
You’d be amazed at how many people don’t brush for days on end. Just because your teeth feel clean, doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from a regular rinse and polish. You should brush twice a day, gently and you should also floss at least once a day.
Mouthwash can also add protection by removing stubborn bacteria and kill other germs that cause bad breath. And it feels nice, too. Try it and you’ll see.
3. Tongue scraping
Once you’ve brushed your teeth, use your toothbrush to gently scrape the bio-film from your tongue. If you have a big toothbrush, you could try a specially designed tongue scraper.
4. Eat wisely
Garlic and onion are tasty, but also big bad breath offenders that may be best left alone before a date, job interview or dinner with friends.
5. Chew gum
Chewing minty fresh gum has the added benefit of stimulating saliva production, which defends against plaque that causes tooth decay and bad breath.
6. Keep your mouth moist
Drink plenty of water, chew gum, and if you’re always in air-conditioned rooms or near heaters, do both. Plenty of saliva lessens the risk of bad breath.
7. Look after your gums
Gum disease is a prime catalyst for bad breath, so look after them and you’ll minimise your chances of experiencing that embarrassing grimace.
If your bad breath continues, you may have a bigger issue than eating too much garlic or not brushing – although the not brushing bit may have contributed to your more-serious problem.
This means that you may need to see a periodontist, dentist or doctor before it leads to a more serious medical condition.
Do you look after your teeth and gums? Have you ever had the embarrassment of being told you have bad breath? Or have you ever had to tell someone else? How did you go about it?
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