From fashion disaster to conversation faux pas, there’s plenty of things to worry about before a date. Your breath shouldn't be one of them.
Yet, in a 2013 survey of Brits, more than half said that having bad breath before a big date is their top concern, according to The Daily Mail. And no wonder the angst — three-quarters of the people surveyed said that they wouldn’t go on a second date with someone who had bad breath.
The survey results are consistent with other social research findings: Having bad breath can have severe impact on a person’s social interaction and relationships.
The thing is, doesn't everyone gets bad breath (known medically as halitosis) now and then?
Bad breath generally results from poor dental habits, but it can be a sign of moderate-to-severe health problems.
It can even be caused by certain types of foods you may be eating. Garlic and onions are obvious culprits. Others are coffee and alcoholic beverages.
Chewing tobacco can also make for halitosis. People who wear dental appliances, such as retainers, braces or dentures can also experience halitosis more often than people who don’t.
Conditions as common as dry mouth, tooth cavities, salivary gland problems and yeast infections can also cause bad breath.
If you experience chronic halitosis you may have a health issue that needs to be addressed, such as chronic acid reflux, diabetes, liver and kidney problems, infections of the respiratory system and postnasal drip.
Here are four ways to nix the stench:
Keep it clean
Your mouth is a natural breeding ground for germs that can cause odors. Keep your mouth as clean as possible by brushing after every meal and flossing away dental plaque at least twice a day.
Replace your toothbrush every two to three months, and strive to get regular dental checkups and cleaning at least twice a year.
Check your tongue
Is your tongue pink and healthy-looking or is it coated with a white substance? That white substance is debris, bacteria and dead cells getting lodged and inflaming the papillae (taste buds) on your tongue.
“White tongue” is generally harmless, but if it persists more than a couple of weeks or causes pain and swelling, see your doctor or dentist right away. White tongue that persists can lead to more serious health problems.
One self-remedy is just before brushing your teeth, hold the tip of your tongue with gauze and pull it forward to clean the back of the tongue. You can also use a tongue scraper available at most pharmacies and big box stores, or for a no-cost solution, use a spoon.
Go au naturel
You may opt to forego the off-the-shelf mouthwash that contains high concentrations of alcohol, which can sometimes make bad breath worse. There are still many natural ways to freshen your breath.
Chew a few cloves, fennel seeds or anise seeds, all of which fight oral bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Are you more of citrus person? Stimulate your salivary glands by champing on a piece of freshly washed lemon or orange rind for a burst of cleansing flavor.
Or try green tea, cinnamon sticks, parsley springs, basil, cilantro or fresh mint leaves.
Wet your whistle
Getting plenty of clean water each day can help stave off dry mouth that can cause odor. Drinking water keeps your mouth moist and bad breath under control by washing away food particles and bacteria.
You might also try infusing your water with antioxidant-rich oranges, strawberries, and kiwi, which can help keep breath fresh. Your dentist may prescribe an over-the-counter saliva substitute if you suffer from chronic dry mouth.
Daily Mail. “Bad breath, fashion disasters and looking fat cited as biggest pre-date fears.” Bianca London. 28 May, 2013.
British Dental Journal. Attitudes towards individuals with halitosis: an online cross sectional survey of the Dutch general population. A. de Jongh, A. J. van Wijk, M. Horstman & C. de Baat. 216, E8 (2014) Published online: 21 February 2014 | doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2014.101
White tongue. Mayo Clinic. Online: Retrieved February 18, 2015.
Reviewed February 18, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith