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  • 4/10/2007

Sixteen Ways to Overcome Bad Breath

   It's just after lunch and you are in the middle of an important job interview. You are sailing along, doing everything right. Answers to the interviewer's questions trip lightly from your tongue. You laugh together. You smile at each other. Your body language says that you are at ease, self-assured. You have got the job - you think.

   So you stand up, shake hands, and say, "I have enjoyed talking to you and I shall look forward to hearing from you."


   Your interviewer grimaces just a little. His upper lip wrinkles. He smiles a tight, little smile. You can see something just went wrong. He has been completely offended by your bad breath.

   Not exactly the lasting impression you wanted to leave. Was it your lunch? Could be. But it could also be the lunch you ate yesterday. To find out why - and to avoid those potentially embarrassing moments - read on.

Don't Dine with the Garlic Family

   Highly spiced foods like to linger, long after the party is over. Spices tend to stay and re-circulate through essential oils they leave in your mouth. Depending on how much you eat, the odor can stay in your mouth for up to 24 hours; no matter how often you brush your teeth. Some foods to avoid include onions, hot peppers, and garlic.

Meat at the Deli Later

   Even spicy deli meats such as sausages, salami, and pepperoni (available in Islamic countries, made fromhalal veal and chicken) also leave oils behind long after you have swallowed them. You breathe. They breathe. If an occasion calls for sweet-smelling breath, it is best to avoid these meats for 24 hours beforehand to prevent them from talking for you!

   Say, "Please, no cheese"! Camembert, Roquefort, and blue cheese toppings are called strong for good reason - they get a hold on your breath and don't let go. Other dairy products can have the same effect.

Don't Fish for Compliments

   Some fish, like the strong flavored ones used for toppings on your pizza or even the tuna you tuck into your brown-bag lunch, can leave a lasting impression.

Stick with Water

   Coffee and most malt beverages are at the top of the list of liquid offenders. Each leaves a residue that can attach to the plaque in your mouth and infiltrate your digestive system. Each breath you take spews traces of this back to the air.

Carry a Toothbrush

   "Some odors can be eliminated - permanently or temporarily - if you brush immediately after a meal. The main culprit in bad breath is a soft, sticky film of living and dead bacteria that clings to your teeth and gums", says Eric Shapira, DDS, Assistant Clinical Professor and a lecturer at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. That film is called plaque. At any time, there are 50 trillion of these microscopic organisms loitering in your mouth. They sit in every dark corner, eating each morsel of food that passes your lips, collecting little smells, and producing little odors of their own. As you exhale, the bacteria exhale. So brush away the plaque after each meal and get rid of some of the breath problem.

Rinse Your Mouth Out

   When you cannot brush, you can rinse. "Go to the rest-room after meals and get a mouthful of water, swish it around, and wash off the smell of food from your mouth", says Jerry F. Faintor, DDS, the Chairman of Endodontics at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. Spit the water out, of course.

Eat Three Meals a Day

   Bad breath can be caused by "not eating", too. One of the side effects of fasting or a poor diet is bad breath.

Swish and Swallow

   "You are in a restaurant, and your brush and floss are at home. You cannot excuse yourself from the table. So take a sip from your water glass and discreetly circulate the water across and around your teeth. Then swallow those potentially offending bits of food", says Dr. Shapira.

Gargle With a Mint Mouthwash

   If you need 20 minutes of freedom from bad breath, gargling with a mouthwash is a great idea. But like Cinderella's coach-turned-pumpkin, when your time is up, the magic will be gone and you shall be back to talking behind a hand again.

Choose your mouthwash by color and flavor. Amber and medicine-flavored mouthwashes contain essential oils such as thyme, eucalyptus, peppermint, and wintergreen, as well as sodium benzoate or benzoic acid. Red and spicy mouthwashes may contain zinc compounds. Both types will neutralize the odor-producing waste products of your mouth bacteria.

Chew a Mint or Some Gum

   Like mouthwash, a breath mint or mint gum is just a cover-up, good for a short interview, a short ride in a compact car, or a very short date.

Eat Your Parsley

   Parsley ads more than green to your lunch plate; it is also a breath-saver. Parsley can freshen your breath naturally. So pick up that sprig and chew it thoroughly.

Spice is Nice

   Certain herbs and spices you keep in your kitchen are natural breath-enhances. Carry a tiny plastic bag of cloves, fennel, or anise seeds to chew after those odorous meals.

Brush your Tongue

   "Most people overlook their tongues”, says Dr. Shapira. "Your tongue is covered with little hair-like projections, which under a microscope look like a forest of mushrooms. Under the caps of the mushrooms there is room to harbor plaque and some of the things we eat. That causes bad breath."

His advice

   While you are brushing, gently sweep the top of your tongue, too. Don't leave food and bacteria behind to breed bad breath.

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