When you're out in the world interacting with other people, having conversations, it helps to have fresh breath. Don't you want to go to bed knowing for certain that you're not going to offend your partner with bad breath? Haven't there been times when an associate (or, gasp, a potential significant other) got a little too close for your comfort - on account of their halitosis? Even in our overly-perfumed world, bad breath easily sneaks its way into our awareness. Unfortunately there's no easy way to deliver the message to someone else that you'd like them to "exhale away from you" - but there IS something quite easy that you can do for yourself to ensure that your breath is fresh all the time.
There was a time when I wouldn't go anywhere without a pack of Cinnamon Trident, but gum (and most mouthwashes) only temporarily mask the problem. Chewing gum runs out of flavor (and protective value - same with breath mints), and mouthwashes dry your mouth out with harsh alcohol - along with having the other adverse effect of ruining anything else you might want to taste (nothing like a yummy dinner at a restaurant lashed with Listerine). However, several years ago I came across a new source of information about bad breath - along with a product that actually WORKS to effectively combat the effects of halitosis.
Quick Disclaimer: If you have really BAD bad breath, and it doesn't go away, that could be the sign of something serious going on with your health. Check with a dentist or a doctor to make sure that you're otherwise a-ok.
What really causes bad breath
If you want a really thorough explanation, you should check out "The Bad Breath Bible" - which is a collection of all the information that Dr. Harold Katz (the creator of Therabreath products) has learned through his years of research into bad breath. Here's the skinny in brief: At the back of your tongue, there are ridges. Within those ridges live fun little bacteria - anaerobic bacteria, the kind that thrive in an oxygen-deprived environment. Those bacteria give off the nasty-smelling gasses that stand between you and your sweet-smelling ideal. The solution to halitosis first GETS AT those bacteria, exposing them to the effects of your treatment, THEN it kills them, but with something gentle - oxygen. Sure, all that alcohol in most commercial mouthwashes kills the bacteria, but the alcohol dries out your mouth, leading to a chain of events that actually causes MORE of that bacteria to form.
So here's a method that I found...that works. And it's easy to follow.
- Floss your teeth. Just because the bacteria at the back of your tongue is the main source of bad smells doesn't make it the ONLY source. Use floss (I prefer "Glide") to get rid of any food debris that might be hiding out between your teeth, and to also disturb the little colonies of bacteria that otherwise wouldn't be touched by your brushing.
- Brush your teeth. I use a toothpaste from JASON Organics called "Healthy Mouth" - which is imho the best toothpaste there is. How can I make such a claim? First, the toothpaste tastes great (it's flavored with clove and cinnamon) - so you can eat literally right after you brush your teeth. I'm serious - you can even drink orange juice without that "oh no, I just brushed my teeth" sort of feeling. So unlike most toothpastes, it doesn't ruin your palette. Second, whenever I go to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned, there is almost never any "calculus" (i.e. tartar) on my teeth for them to scrape. I always get this look like "why are you here again?" - and inevitably they ask what I use for toothpaste. Finally, Healthy Mouth is an all-natural organic toothpaste, without any SLS (sodium laurel sulfate, a foaming agent that can cause irritation, and that also happens to be in most other commercial toothpastes) - so it's good for you and good for the planet.
- Use a tongue scraper on the back of your tongue to GENTLY remove the coating. The coating is what protects those little bacteria hanging out in the grooves. Make sure that you're GENTLE - you don't want to actually hurt your tongue, you're just trying to get the (sorry about this) mucous coating off. Try to go back as far as you can - in order to avoid triggering your gag reflex it helps to take deep breaths and exhale as you're reaching back with the tongue scraper. So, again, be gentle with your tongue scraper (you can get one at any pharmacy) - just expose those little bacteria so they're vulnerable for what's about to follow. Rinse your mouth with a little water when you're done with this step.
- Gargle with Therabreath. Take a capful of Therabreath, gargle it as far back in your mouth as you can (try to reach the spots that you just scraped with your tongue scraper) - then swish it around the rest of your mouth. Try to get everything thoroughly. Spit the mouthwash out. Repeat if you're paranoid. DO NOT RINSE. That's it! Therabreath has a stabilized oxygen compound that works immediately on those newly-exposed bacteria, and keeps on working for several hours. Plus, it doesn't dry out your mouth and it also has the property that you can eat soon after and fully enjoy the tastes of the food you're consuming. Bad breath begone - without any side effects!
FYI, I'm going to keep my product recommendations to an absolute minimum, so that you know that when I recommend something it really works. Therabreath Mouthwash totally transformed my life in the "no more bad breath" department, which is why I'm writing about it. The link takes you to the Therabreath website - there are other products on the website that that are also effective, but I've found that the Therabreath Mouthwash was really all I needed to get rid of bad breath.
That's all there is to it. For more information, check out the "Bad Breath Bible" (it's a free download) - and give the 4-step treatment I just outlined a try. You can pick up Therabreath directly from their website, and it is also carried by many local pharmacy and grocery store chains (just be forewarned, they often keep it on the "specialty oral care products" shelf - not with the other mouthwashes). When you address the problem of bad breath for good, you'll never have to worry about whether or not your breath is an issue for the people around you. I guarantee those people will thank you - silently. And you can breathe a risk-free sigh of relief. 🙂