Halitosis, more commonly known as “bad breath,” plagues all of us at one time or another. The cause is sometimes from gastric reflux, lactose intolerance, liver and kidney disease or sinus problems requiring intervention from your physician. Here we focus on garden variety bad breath, which comes from dental problems including decay, gum disease and dry mouth and constitutes the vast majority of cases.

So…whether you wake up with morning breath or eat too much garlic with your dinner, bad breath can get in the way of your daily conversations. But there are a few simple ways to remedy all this! Here are our Top Five Tips to make sure your dinner date doesn’t end on a sour note.

1. Know Your Food
They say you are what you eat, so if you want pleasant smelling breath, eat pleasant smelling food; fruits and vegetables are good candidates. Obviously onions and garlic are prime culprits for bad breath. But a surprise guest on this list is meat. Meat lodges between your teeth and allows bacteria to reproduce very quickly. Make sure you rinse your mouth with water after you eat. This is a simple remedy that helps balance the PH levels in your mouth.

2. Skip The Post-Meal Cigarette
We all know that cigarettes are bad for your health, but they’re bad for your breath too. Not only do they release a cocktail of chemicals into your mouth, they also cause dry mouth. An oxygen-depleted mouth is a prime environment for bacterial growth.

3. Clean Your Tongue
The rough, bumpy surface of your tongue is home to dead skin cells, bacteria and food debris. Be sure to clean your tongue with your toothbrush or get a tongue brush or scraper for a more thorough scrubbing.

4. Brush and Floss Regularly
Your mouth is a germ factory. Think of the food you eat, as food for the germs and bacteria in your mouth. When you brush and floss daily, you are taking away their food source, keeping your breath minty clean. Flossing is crucial and overlooked by many people. Food particles hide in-between teeth causing decay, which is also a huge contributor in the battle with halitosis. If you wear full or partial dentures they must be thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis as well.

5. Visit Your Dentist
This is the most important tip we can offer. Just like taking your car in for an oil change, regular maintenance on your mouth and teeth will ensure fewer problems. Make sure you don’t put off two annual cleaning appointments. These check ups allow your dentist to make early diagnosis of gum disease, decay and other sources of halitosis. In addition, the hygienist will remove plaque and tartar and prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.