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Bad breath is embarrassing, and can make getting even the shortest interaction with someone a stressful experience. But you’re not alone. More than 80 million people suffer from bad breath—or what dentists call chronic halitosis. Bad breath originates not just from the types of food you consume, but from plaque and bacteria build up as well.

Follow these tips to not only fight bad breath but keep your mouth feeling fresh as well:

Brush twice a day: Brushing your teeth at least twice a day (and after a particularly smelly meal) can help keep your breath smelling fresh and your pearly whites looking bright.

Don’t forget about your tongue: Invest in a tongue scraper. This handy tool gets rid of any residue stuck in between your taste buds. If you don’t have one, your toothbrush will work too.

Floss daily: Bacteria in your mouth feeds on food caught in between your teeth. Flossing not only helps eliminate this excess food, but also helps reduce the amount of bacteria as well.

Rinse your mouth: And not necessarily with a mouthwash like Listerine®—which may only mask your bad breath. If fresh breath is your goal, rinse your mouth with some water and a couple of drops of peppermint oil.

Quit smoking: Smoking cigarettes, or any tobacco product for that matter, can leave a smell that lingers even after brushing your teeth. Tobacco also dries out your mouth which promotes bacteria growth—the primary cause of bad breath.

Drink water: Drinking the recommended six to eight ounces a day can help you avoid dry mouth, and will help rinse away food particles and bacteria.

Chew sugarless gum: This will stimulate the production of saliva in your mouth, which is your bodies natural way of eliminated food debris and bacteria.

Snack on carrots, celery or apples: Crispy fruits and veggies can help generate saliva and will act as natural floss while you chew. And having something in your stomach helps reduce the amount of acid build up in your stomach, which can contribute to bad breath.

Munch on parsley or mint: Herbs are not just a garnish. Plants contain chlorophyll—a proven breath deodorizer. If you don’t want to munch on your herbs, run them through a juicer.

Visit the dentist: Your dentist can help you discover signs of chronic dry mouth or bad breath, and provide you with solutions that will be customized for your mouth.

Need to visit the dentist, but can’t overcome your dental phobia? Learn more about sedation dentistry and how it can help you with your dental anxiety in our free eBook—7 Steps to End Your Fear of Dental Procedures.

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