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Bad Breath Can be Tough to Treat

See a dentist when oral hygiene fails

One British survey found that bad breath -- or halitosis -- outranked body odor, dirty fingernails and acne as the most repugnant physical trait. The problem sometimes sabotages personal relationships or damages careers. The good news is that simple hygiene measures at home can treat about three-fourths of cases of bad breath.

Bacteria in the mouth cause most breath problems. The bacteria usually collect at the back of the tongue and sometimes in gaps between teeth or the edges of dental work. A feature from The Times of London describes practical approaches that can treat many cases of bad breath. Some tips include:

  • Have your teeth professionally cleaned;
  • Use unscented floss so smells can easily be detected;
  • Brush or scrape your tongue daily; and
  • Drink plenty of liquids but avoid coffee, which can make bad breath worse.

An additional story from The Times explains that tongue-scraping can be traced back several thousand years to India. Practitioners of ayurvedic medicine believed that a white coating on the tongue reflected levels of toxins in the body. Modern research can't prove the bacterial film is harmful, but it is the primary source of halitosis.

Sometimes, however, brushing, flossing and tongue-scraping still fail to eradicate bad breath. Mouthwash won't help, either. A news-service story appearing in The Times of India explains how special oxygen-containing gels can be used to eradicate the troublesome bacteria in the mouth. It requires a trip to the dentist, who custom fits trays inside the mouth to hold the gels. It's a process similar to the treatment for whitening teeth. Eradicating the bacteria may take several weeks.

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