According to the National Institutes of Health, poor oral hygiene is the most common reason for bad breath. And all the mouthwash, breath mints, and breath fresheners in the world can't banish bad breath when the source is bacteria rather than the food you eat.
If you've been having trouble keeping your mouth feeling fresh and smelling good, this article will help you locate the real source of the problem...and it may not be the onions you ate at lunch.
How do you know if your breath smells bad? If you're lucky, someone may have the courtesy (and courage) to tell you to your face. But more often than not, other people will simply flinch, turn away, or step back a pace when you're talking to them.
To avoid the embarrassing situations described above, you can use these two techniques to give yourself a breath checkup and help you determine what's making your mouth smell so unpleasant to yourself and others.
- Breath Test #1 - Front (Anterior) Tongue Test - Lick your wrist. Then wait about five seconds while the saliva dries somewhat. Smell your wrist. If it smells bad, you have probably recently eaten something stinky. Simply brushing your teeth and rinsing your mouth with mouthwash, or popping a breath mint should take care of the problem. Chewing on fresh parsley is another effective way to fight temporary bad breath
- Breath Test #2 - Back (Posterior) Tongue Test - Take a spoon, turn it upside down, and use it to gently scrape the very back portion of your tongue. (It's common that this test can cause an automatic 'gag' reaction, so be prepared.) A thick whitish material will be on the spoon. Give it a sniff. If the smell is sharp and unpleasant, you most likely have halitosis, the kind of 'bad breath' that is caused by poor oral hygiene and that won't respond to simple brushing and mouth wash.
If you failed Breath Test #2, you're not alone. A research study conducted by the University of Buffalo in New York concluded that one in four adults has halitosis, and some estimates suggest that as many as 90 million Americans have bad breath related to oral hygiene.
When the white substance on the back of your tongue smells bad, the likely culprit is a bacteria associated with gum disease is. The bacteria's name is actinomyces, and it feeds on protein particles on the teeth and gums, producing foul-smelling sulfur gases in the process. Actinomyces is also the bacteria responsible for giving soil its 'dirt' smell and envelopes your mouth a sharp, pungent aroma.
Bacteria growth occurs when you fail to pay attention to your oral hygiene. In fact, flossing daily and brushing your teeth and tongue twice a day can greatly reduce bad breath as well as make it more difficult for bacteria to grow. BUT...
The same bacteria that cause gum disease, tooth decay, and abscessed teeth are also responsible for halitosis. Regular check-ups and professional cleanings are the only way to really ensure that your mouth is healthy and your breath is sweet-smelling.
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