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Oddly enough, bad breath, also called "halitosis," is an affliction you can have and not even know it. Cupping your hands in your mouth and sniffing the air that comes out won't tell you if your breath is bad; the offending odor comes from the back of the mouth and is only forced out when you speak. Here are a few methods to try that might reveal unpleasant breath odor:

  Pull your tongue forward with one hand, and with the other, wipe the back of your tongue for about 15 seconds with a clean cotton ball. Wait a few minutes and sniff the cotton ball; if it smells bad, this could mean you have bad breath.

  Floss a few of your back teeth with a piece of unflavored, unwaxed dental floss. Again, wait a few minutes and then sniff the floss. It's likely that this is what your breath smells like.

  Do you frequently have a bad taste in your mouth? If you do, that's a clue that you might have bad breath.

  Ask for a truthful answer from a trusted friend or family member. Yes, the truth can be embarassing, but knowledge is power! Now you can do something about it! Unfortunately, none of these methods are foolproof. A visit to the dentist is the only way to find out definitively whether or not your breath has an offensive odor. Assessing the health of your gums, testing saliva levels, and even measuring the levels of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) in your mouth with a device called a "halimeter" are some of the methods your dentist might use to assess your breath. "If a person has persistent bad breath to the point it's disturbing themselves and other people, they should see a doctor or dentist," said Beatrice Gandara, research assistant professor at the University of Washington Oral Medicine Clinic. Chronic bad breath is frequently a sign of periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss; it's been linked to other health problems, as well. For these reasons, periodontal disease should never be ignored.

Sources - The American Dental Association The University of Washington Oral Medicine Clinic


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