On Valentine’s Day — the holiday of love — kissing counts. In fact, on Feb. 14, 2009, nearly 40,000 people gathered in Mexico to set the world record for the most people kissing simultaneously.
But imagine all this kissing if you suffer from bad breath?
First, you are not alone. It is estimated that 50 percent of adults have bad breath, and researchers believe that nearly everybody has experienced this problem at some point.
There’s temporary bad breath, likely caused by something you ate. And then there is more chronic bad breath, formally called “halitosis.” Bad breath occurs when smelly compounds in food are absorbed into the bloodstream and released into the air as you exhale. It can also be from food particles stuck on or between the teeth that have not been brushed away.
“Bad breath occurs when smelly compounds in food are absorbed into the
bloodstream and released into the air as you exhale.”
So, what can you do about it?
Pay attention to the foods you eat. Avoid pungent foods such as onions, garlic, coffee, and strong-smelling fish like sardines and tuna (at least a few days before and during your big date).
On the other hand, foods that help address the problem are crunchy vegetables (they help clean your mouth), mint (of course) and parsley. Aromatic spices such as cloves, cardamom, anise and fennel seeds are believed to aid digestion as well as freshen breath.
Keep the saliva flowing. A dry mouth is a common cause of bad breath. Saliva is nature’s mouth cleaner, and it helps wash away odor-causing bacteria. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water (avoid sugary drinks; that will make the problem worse). Chewing sugar free gum also stimulates saliva production.
“Saliva is nature’s mouth cleaner, and it helps wash away odor-causing bacteria.”
Try a humidifier to moisten the air you breathe indoors. If the air in your house is dry, it could be drying out your mouth as you sleep, contributing to that dreaded “morning breath.”
Clean your tongue. Much of the bacteria responsible for bad breath lingers on the back of the tongue. Tongue scrapers are available in different shapes and sizes. You could also just brush your tongue with a toothbrush.
If you have persistent bad breath, it is a good idea to check in with your dentist to help identify the cause. If the dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, you might be referred to your primary care physician to rule out a medical issue.
No one should have to live with frequent or constant bad breath. Let the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday inspire you to do something about it.