Battle Bad Breath With These Tips

Get tips on how to battle bad breath and discover what causes it.

ByABC News via GMA logo
June 30, 2009, 11:30 AM

June 30, 2009— -- The medical term for it is halitosis, but you don't need to be a doctor to recognize it. You easily can sniff it out.

It's bad breath, and 90 percent of it is caused by bacteria that lodge in the grooves of the tongue and wedge between the teeth and gums.

The result is foul-smelling culprits called volatile sulfur compounds. And the bad-breath bacteria multiply when exposed to acids, like coffee and orange juice and anything with sugar.

But there are ways to battle bad breath. While some may think products with heavy alcohol content will tackle stinky breath effectively, but the opposite is true. Alcohol actually dries out your mouth and the bad-breath-causing bacteria thrive in dry environments

That's why you have bad breath in the morning. You salivate less at night and those bacteria go nuts. That's also why skipping breakfast can give you bad breath. Eating breakfast gets the salivation going and takes care of the overnight dry mouth phenomenon. So staying hydrated is key to good breath.

There are also many products on the market geared to controlling bad breath.

Dr. Nancy Rosen, a cosmetic and restorative dentist, says that mouth wash doesn't need to sting in order to be effective. The stinging sensation comes from the alcohol in some products, which actually dries out the mouth and lets bacteria flourish. Over the counter brands Rosen recommends include Crest Pro Health and Biotene.

It's a prescription strength rinse for people with chronic gum disease, which allows more bacteria to lodge under your gums.

Bacteria lodge in the grooves in your tongue, which are deeper in the back of your tongue. The tongue scraper can brush your tongue clean of excess bacteria better than simply brushing your tongue. Rosen says it's essential to scrape your tongue in addition to brushing and flossing.

A Halimeter is a machine that detects the smelly volatile sulfur compounds in bad breath. Any score over 100 means your breath is less than lovely.

Chewing sugar free gum doesn't promote tooth decay, and keeps your mouth hydrated.