Whether with a potential employer or potential love interest, bad breath can kill a first impression at the jump. But the ugly truth is that even if you brush vigorously and never neglect a nightly flossing session, you’re still not safe from an occasional case of halitosis. “Bacteria can accumulate under the gumline and cause a terrible smell,” Sally J. Cram, DDS, pedodontist in Washington D.C. and consumer advisor for the ADA, says. Here, Cram offers her suggestions on how to keep it fresh all day, every day.
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Stay Loyal to Your Hygiene Routine
We're all guilty of swigging mouthwash as a quick solution on lazy mornings or late nights, but it's important to stay loyal to a regular oral hygiene routine. "Mouthwashes just mask whatever the issue is, they don't solve it," Cram explains. "It's similar to spritzing on cologne instead of taking a proper shower." You may feel minty fresh for a few hours, but mouthwash alone can't remove the bacteria that brushing and flossing take care of, and that neglect can eventually lead to sustained bad breath and tooth decay. "A rotting tooth smells really bad,” Cram adds.
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Invest in the Right Toothbrush
It's easy to get overwhelmed with the variety of toothbrushes in the oral care aisle, but Cram suggests sticking to a soft toothbrush with lots of bristles. "A small or compact head helps to reach better around the back teeth. The idea is to get those bristles down under the gumline and sweep out the plaque." Try the Colgate Wave Gum Comfort Ultra Soft Compact Head toothbrush ($4; kleenteeth.com).