By Dr. Donald A. Miller
I recently read a news miscellany that a young
into a cure for bad breath offered only one solution:
the back of the tongue when brushing your teeth.
How foolish! That advice can't hurt, but there's much
to the story.
Here is better advice, based on years of sweet breath.
1. Don't smoke. Non smokers can smell your stench for hours
afterwards, from many feet away. It's so bad that a non
smoker can usually tell if there are smokers in the automo-
bile in front, or if someone has smoked in a given room or
car even days earlier.
2. Limit alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks on
most days. A little bit can extend life, but a lot can
shorten it, as well as irritating the digestive system
enough to taint your breath.
3. Eat a low fat and high fiber diet, with whole-grains,
fruits, vegetables. That is also good advice for reducing
your chances of heart attack and cancer.
4. Limit sugary snacks and beverages, and fatty-salty
5. Don't be fat. Overweight can damage your whole system in
a lot of ways, including foul breath.
6. Have regular bowel movements, best if soon after or
before your first meal of the day. If you need help getting
into this habit, take high fiber dietary supplements after
supper, in moderation. "Psyllium husk" works. Non-fiber
laxatives, used frequently, are not a good idea. See #11.
7. Brush your teeth after your last meal of the day, and
don't snack afterwards. Brush from the gums to the teeth
ends. Include a good job of flossing, as a dentist can teach
you, reaching below the gum line. It is a waste of time to
brush before breakfast, but after breakfast is fine.
(I floss and brush both a.m. and p.m., and my few fillings
are all from my early years. My parents did not know any
8. Get regular dental cleanings and treat any cavities. If
you are good with floss and brush, you can go longer than
six months. If you always have visible crusty deposits along
your gum line, you have not been cleaning properly, and you
will probably be wearing dentures before middle age. Teeth
DON'T have to be rotting in order to fall out.
9. Don't bother with mouth wash or special tooth pastes,
unless your dentist says there is a good medical reason for
it. That is one of the most profitable and worthless product
categories on the market, after carbonated beverages. If you
are really paranoid, you can gargle with dilute hydrogen
peroxide or salt water, but prolonged use can kill off
beneficial bacteria and encourage the growth of yeasts and
10. If you have any chronic diseases, ask your doctor if
they can affect your breath. Some medicines can taint the
breath, but their benefits are more important than how you
11. Get at least some exercise. If nothing better, walk a
mile or two every day. A morning walk can help regular bowel
12. Don't worry about spices, garlic, onions; they are a
part of a joyful life. If you are concerned, brush teeth or
chew gum afterwards.
However, if your spicy foods contain a lot of fat, see
if you can modify the recipes or limit how often you indulge.