Everyone has experienced bad breath at one time or another. Temporary bad breath is usually caused by food that you have recently eaten, or most commonly by bacteria in your mouth and on your tongue. Chronic bad breath can be caused by bacterial colonies in the mouth and throat, sinus drainage, tonsil stones and often periodontal disease. Other causes of bad breath include low carb diets and certain underlying medical conditions such as liver and kidney problems, chronic infections in the respiratory tract, or gastrointestinal problems. Other than avoiding garlic, you can help prevent bad breath by brushing your teeth after eating, flossing every day, and most importantly, cleaning your tongue. Tongue brushing or scraping is not usually on our to-do list for daily oral care, but it is important for reducing or eliminating bad breath. The tongue is full of cracks and crevices that are a perfect home for oral bacteria. The bacteria live in the cracks and feed on the food you have eaten, ultimately giving off compounds that we detect as bad breath. A simple plastic tongue scraper is inexpensive and easily obtained at your corner drugstore. Scrape the instrument gently from the base of your tongue forward. Take several strokes to cover the entire tongue – you’ll be surprised at what you see. Rub a small dab of toothpaste on your tongue and hold it there while you brush your teeth, rinse, and spit. Do not swallow the toothpaste. Your teeth and tongue are clean and ready to face the day. Mouth rinses and mouthwash usually are not very effective at treating bad breath. They merely cover up the problem for a short time and the sugar in the product then adds more food for the bacteria, making the problem worse. Remember that professional dental hygiene appointments are important to remove bacteria and plaque from under the gum line. If you feel you suffer from bad breath and are unable to manage the problem on your own, please contact our Scottsdale cosmetic dentist today to schedule an appointment. Desert Smiles serves patients in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Peoria, and Glendale, Arizona areas.