Most people are forced to deal with bad breath, also known as halitosis, from time to time, and almost everyone wakes up with it in the morning. While there are several root causes of bad breath, most of them can successfully treated with just a little knowledge and effort. Below are some of the best ways to handle potentially embarrassing mouth odours.

Brush More Frequently

While it may seem obvious, very few people actually brush as often as dentists recommend. Ideally, a person should brush once in the morning, after every meal during the day, and just before bed. Even if this is unrealistic for people with busy or hectic lives, brushing even one extra time per day can greatly reduce bad breath. Flossing daily and scheduling bi-annual dental checkups can also prevent oral hygiene issues, which are the most common source of halitosis.

Get Enough Water

Staying hydrated is key to wiping out bad breath. A dehydrated person produces less saliva, which contains important enzymes that help neutralize odours in the mouth. Not only that, but drinking water helps to wash away harmful bacteria or debris that may be trapped between teeth. Studies have shown that consumption of milk may help deactivate certain bacterial odours, as well. On the other hand, coffee, alcohol, and sugary drinks can make bad breath significantly worse.

Change Up Your Diet

Altering your diet is one of the simpler ways to eliminate bad breath. The biggest offender is sugary foods, since bacteria in the mouth tend to ferment sugars, which creates a bad smell. Adding more fresh fruits and vegetables can help to get rid of plaques and debris in the mouth, while certain spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom, have been shown to have odour-fighting capabilities. For those on a low-carb diet, be aware that it can cause the body to release ketones, an odorous chemical that can cause your breath to smell like acetone.

Scrape and Rinse

Most bad breath is caused by bacteria becoming trapped in the folds of the tongue, especially towards the back. Investing in a tongue scraper could make a huge difference when it comes to curbing halitosis. Most oral hygienists recommend using a scraper twice daily. In addition, try looking for a mouthwash that uses zinc chloride instead of alcohol to kill bacteria. Most of these mouthwashes will be a bright blue or green colour, but the best way to tell is to simply check the list of active ingredients.

Ditch the Tobacco

The chemicals found in tobacco, whether from cigarettes, pipes, or even chewing tobacco, can all contribute to bad breath–not to mention yellow teeth. Some people are even more prone than others to halitosis brought on by tobacco use, so consider the use of an electronic cigarette or nicotine patch instead.

Mask the Scent

While it’s no replacement for proper dental hygiene, using sugar-free gum or sugar-free breath mints can be an excellent short-term fix for bad breath. Not only will they freshen the breath, but they will also cause the body to create more saliva, as well. Just be sure to avoid gum and mints that are made with sugar, since it will stick to the teeth and ferment, making bad breath even worse.

By using the above tips, it is possible to greatly reduce bad breath or even eliminate it altogether. If nothing seems to work, it may be necessary to visit a dentist or medical professional to make sure there is not a more serious health concern at play, since incurable bad breath may be an indication of an oral abscess, rotting tooth, liver damage, acid reflux, or even diabetes.