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Tongue scum.

I have a gross white coating all over the top of my tongue. I've used mouthwash, but it won't go away. How do I get rid of it?

Tongues are actually kind of furry. Well, not furry, but our taste buds are like little soft nubbies, called papillae. In between the papillae are grooves where food and bacteria can collect, turning your tongue white and your breath icky (bleck). The odor occurs because bacteria produce sulfur compounds, explains Dr. Jennifer Jablow, a New York cosmetic dentist. Luckily, the problem is easy to solve: Brush your tongue. When you brush your teeth, also gently scrub your tongue with a dab of toothpaste. Drink lots of water to wash away food particles, and eat fewer sticky, soft foods, like Twinkies. Opt instead for high-fiber goodies that don't stick, like veggies. If you need a quick fix, chew sugarless gum after meals. Chewing causes your mouth to produce saliva, and saliva is a natural cleanser that washes away that yucko white stuff.

You want sweatshirts to be baggy, not your face. Stress, lack of sleep, dehydration and poor diet can cause dark bags, says Dr. Ariel Ostad, a New York City dermatologist. So drink water, eat fruits and veggies, and sleep plenty. Meantime, try concealers to cover darkness. For puffiness, place a wet tea bag over your eyes (uh, close 'em first) for 10 minutes. Or try cucumber slices--they contain a puff-fighting enzyme.

First, have your school nurse give you a fair booty assessment, says Dr. James Chlovechok, medical director, Ohio Sports Medicine Institute. You could have scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that can result in one butt cheek being higher. Bend forward at your waist and have the nurse check your spine. Is it straight? If so, all's well. If your spine bends, see a doc. (Don't freak--most people with scoliosis get by just fine.) If you've ruled out scoliosis, and your butt still bugs you, exercise to even it out. "Walking 20 minutes every day will develop buttocks muscles equally," says Kristen Gagne, personal training manager at Equinox in Woodbury, N.Y. Avoid snowboarding or other sports in which you favor one side. And no butts about it: You're probably the only one who notices your uneven rump.

Stumper of your own? Send your question to Body Q&A, Girls' Life, 4517 Harford Road. Baltimore. MD 21214, or e-mail it to
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Title Annotation:Body Q&A
Author:Kemp, Kristen
Publication:Girls' Life
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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