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10 ways to help you banish bad breath; Concerned about your oral health? KIM JONES has some top tips just for you.

Byline: KIM JONES

POOR oral hygiene can smack you right in the kisser. It causes a mouthful of ailments including off-putting bad breath, missing teeth, bleeding gums - all of which can ruin your chances of getting a snog.

In fact a recent survey found one in five people said they had been put off kissing someone because of awful oral health.

Obviously brushing and flossing regularly are musts for a fresh mouth.

But with Valentine's Day almost upon us, here's what else you can do to ensure you get to pucker up on February 14.

1 BRUSH YOUR TONGUE HALITOSIS is caused by the anaerobic sulphur-producing bacteria found beneath the surface of the tongue, according to dentist and bad breath guru Dr Harold Katz (thebreathco.com).

So clean your tongue gently with your toothbrush or look for brushes that have special tongue cleaners on the back of the head.

Begin cleaning from the front, slowly moving to the back of the tongue to ensure you don't gag.

Do twice daily or whenever your breath feels less than fresh.

2 GET SALIVATING SALIVA is Mother Nature's very own teeth and mouth repair kit.

"The bacteria on your tongue thrive in a dry environment," says Dr Katz.

"Keep your mouth moist by drinking six to eight glasses of water daily to help replenish your saliva, which contains natural anti-microbials."

EAT WATERMELON MUNCHING on fruit and 3 vegetables that contain a lot of water can help keep your mouth moist and bacteria-free too, says Dr Katz. He adds: "Choose watermelon, apples, celery, and cucumber."

4 CUT BACK ON COFFEE CAFFEINE can dry out your mouth by slowing saliva production, according to dentist Dr Mervyn Druian.

He says: "If you add milk then there's the additional disadvantage that dairy can also encourage bacteria growth - and more smelly breath.

"Pair your coffee with an odour-neutralising snack such as apple slices, or a piece of fresh ginger. Or have a glass of water after your coffee - this also helps remove coffee stains from teeth."

Alternatively, switch to green tea which can inhibit bacteria.

5 AVOID FADDY DIETS A LOW-CARB diet can cause bad breath (or 'ketobreath' as it's often nicknamed) because it increases production of odour-causing volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs) says Dr Druian.

High-protein diets can have the same effect, as can skipping meals (eating regularly produces saliva that flushes away bacteria from our teeth, tongue, and gums).

Dr Druian says: "Never skip a meal, especially breakfast, because VSCs build up overnight."

6SKIP SUGAR "AVOID adding sugar to foods and drinks because it feeds bacteria that causes bad breath," says Dr Katz.

Beware of using mints and chewing gum to freshen breath for this reason - look for sugar-free versions instead.

7 CHECK OUT YOUR MOUTH WASH YOU might think a quick gargle with mouth wash and/or a squirt of a mouth spray and you're good to go - but avoid those containing alcohol as they can dry out the mouth and so actually make bad breath worse!

Try The Breath Co Fresh Breath Oral Rinse and UltraDEX Fresh Breath Oral Spray which combats bad breath bacteria and is clinically proven to deliver 12 hours' fresh breath.

8 YES TO YOGHURT A JAPANESE study showed that eating yoghurt with active cultures (live yoghurt) helped lower levels of hydrogen sulphide in the mouth and tongues of volunteers with halitosis.

So finish your meal or snack with a yoghurt such as Yeo Valley Organic Natural which is available at most supermarkets.

9 STOP SMOKING A SLIGHTLY obvious one as no-one likes puckering up with someone who tastes like an ashtray.

Even if you clean regularly, tar and nicotine can build up on the teeth, tongue and cheeks and dry the mouth, leading to whiffy breath.

E-cigarettes are also a no-no - the nicotine in them inhibits saliva production leaving your mouth susceptible to bacteria build-up.

10FINISH A MEAL WITH A 'DETERGENT' FOOD FINISH off a meal with a natural tooth cleaner such as an apple, raw carrot, celery or unsweetened popcorn.

Dr Sameer Patel, clinical Director at Elleven Dental (ellevendental.com), says: "They're known as 'detergent' foods because the rough edges act as a cleaner to remove smelly bacteria from the teeth."

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| Fruit and vegetables that contains a lot of water can help keep bacteria at bay

| Cleaning your tongue gently with your toothbrush is a good way of avoiding bad breath
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 9, 2016
Words:734
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