Bad breath may not be uncommon but it remains taboo. You feel awkward talking with people if you suffer from halitosis, as the condition is medically known. Worse, having bad smell coming from your mouth can affect your self-esteem, your job and even your relationships.

While many attribute bad breath to eating pungent food such as garlic and radishes, there are some individuals who shun spicy and pungent food but still suffer from bad breath. The condition is caused by a number of factors and not just certain foods. Bad breath can be caused by poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, smoking, intake of certain medicines and some medical conditions.

"Saliva helps wash food particles from your mouth; thus, people with a dry mouth are at an increased risk of experiencing bad breath. Some medications, mouth breathing and smoking all can contribute to dry mouth," the American Dental Association (ADA) said. "Bad breath can be a byproduct of certain health conditions. It may result from infections in the nose, throat or lungs; chronic sinusitis; postnasal drip; chronic bronchitis; or disturbances in your digestive system."

If you have bad breath, here is a list of things you should do:

1. Observe good oral hygiene

Good oral hygiene is essential for combatting bad breath. The ADA has recommended brushing the teeth at least twice a day and flossing. The association has also advised brushing the tongue to remove bacteria that causes bad breath.

"Knowing the cause is half the battle in fighting bad breath, and the best weapon you have is good oral hygiene. Caring for your mouth will help limit food residue and plaque buildup and reduce the risk of developing caries and periodontal disease," ADA has advised.

2. Use a mouthwash with chlorine dioxide

Rinsing the mouth with a mouthwash that contains chlorine dioxide could neutralize the foul-smelling volatile sulfur compounds produced by oral bacteria. A study conducted by Japanese researchers found that rinsing the mouth with mouthwash that contains chlorine dioxide can help reduce bad breath.

3. Talk to Your Dentist

Your dentist is the expert when it comes to your oral health. He can develop a treatment plan for you that would minimize bad breath as well as assess other probable causes of your condition.

"Talk with your dentist about your concerns," ADA has advised. "A thorough health history, including a list of medications and supplements you are taking, may be helpful in determining whether the cause of your bad breath is localized to the mouth or might be a systemic condition, in which case a physician should be consulted. If your breath problems stem from an oral cause, your dentist can work with you to develop a treatment plan that minimizes odor."

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