Embarrassing Question: I'm super self-conscious about my breath. I brush and floss every day, but I still feel like it's not enough. What else can I do?
Answer: Offensive breath is an issue everyone faces, and not always being able to tell when we have it makes us feel even more aware of opening our mouths. While the most damage is done by food particles nestling in between teeth and on the back of the tongue, part of the problem actually comes from oral care products that use harsh alcohols and perfumes to mask bad breath. They work for a quick fix, but do more harm than good in the long run.
Steer clear of any products that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which can be drying. Instead start with a toothpaste like Thera Breath Oxygenating Toothpaste ($7) that neutralizes the bacteria and sulfer compounds that create halitosis. Next, rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash to really target all the little nooks and crannies your toothbrush can miss. SmartMouth Great Mint Mouthwash ($11) is like a chemistry set—you mix two zinc-fortified solutions together and swish for a minute. The formula, which is garnering rave reviews at Drugstore.com, was created by the dentist who literally wrote the book on halitosis (creator Dr. Marvin Cohen contributed the halitosis entry for Encyclopedia Britannica.) A twice-daily regimen of SmartMouth should stop bad breath at its source, making it less noticeable after just a use or two. After brushing, swishing and flossing, use a tongue scraper like G-U-M Fresh-R Tongue Scraper ($3.50) to get the bad breath baddies stuck in the back of your mouth.
We're not always able to excuse ourselves for a good, thorough brushing in the middle of the day. Keep something handy in your purse to combat midday bad breath toxins. GoSMILE:Elixir Good-for-You Breath Freshener ($29) is like a perfume for your mouth. A spritz of this pH-balancing, vitamin-infused spray goes a long way toward neutralizing the particles that cause halitosis. If breath spray's not your bag, go for Supersmile Quikee Fresher Breath Solution ($12), a toothpaste-like gel you dab on teeth and swish around. As it dissolves, Supersmile kills bad breath germs and whitens, too.
Finally, do the round-the-clock bad breath block by taking a dietary supplement like Nature's Way Chlorofresh Internal Deodorant softgel capsules ($10). These pills use natural alfalfa sprouts to cleanse from the inside out (added bonus: these'll take care of that other embarrassing question waiting to happen, stinky gas).Wash these down with plenty of water, keep drinking agua throughout the day, and have your regular checkups and teeth cleanings and you'll be good to go.