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Do I have bad breath?

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Bad breath affects one in four people. The easiest way to know if you have bad breath is to simply ask, but if that’s out of the question, lick the inside of your wrist, wait for it to dry and then smell. If you’re not impressed, poor oral hygiene may be the offending culprit and following proper routine is a simple remedy.

Schedule regular dental appointments, brush your teeth twice daily, floss daily and clean your tongue. There is limited evidence to support the effectiveness of mouthwash against bad breath, but if you do choose to gargle, do it before bed and avoid, or limit the use of, formulas with high alcohol content and antibacterial action.

Medications, medical conditions or lifestyle choices may also be contributing factors. Medications listing dry mouth as a side effect are particularly problematic. Ask your pharmacist if your medication or medical condition may be contributing to your dry mouth and your bad breath. He/she may recommend an alternative medication or suggest techniques to reduce dry mouth such as chewing sugarless gum, sucking sugarless candy, consuming more fluid or saliva substitutes, etc.

Do not be concerned if you experience dry mouth when waking up, as saliva production is particularly limited during sleep and breathing through the mouth can intensify dryness.

Acid reflux, diabetes and sinus problems may also be associated with bad breath. As can lifestyle choices like smoking; drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages; spicy, garlicky or oniony food; crash dieting; improper denture care practices and not drinking enough water. If bad breath persists in spite of good oral hygiene and lifestyle modifications, a trip to your dentist is in order.

Heather cross is a certified geriatric pharmacist, working as a licensed pharmacist since 2009.


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