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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

Do You Have Garlic Breath … Without Knowing It?

Here are some foolproof ways to freshen up fast.

According to the ADA, 50 percent of Americans suffer from bad breath. Short of asking a close friend to take a whiff, there's no real way to find out if you're one of them. "It's hard to tell if you emit unpleasant breath," says Dr. Alice Boghosian, a dentist and spokeswoman for the ADA. While going to the dentist is the best solution (it can help you deal with any underlying problems that may be causing bad breath), these quick tips can help in a pinch.

Grab a Toothbrush
Brushing your teeth is always the best option. Since food particles that get trapped in your mouth or between teeth can lead to odor-causing bacteria, brush and floss regularly (and any time you suspect you have mouth odor) to help remove them.

Drink Water
Getting your fill of H2O can help rid your mouth of food particles and bacteria. Can’t brush after a meal? At least swish and rinse with some water.

Pop a Piece of Sugar-free Gum
Chewing gum helps stimulate saliva production, which neutralizes bacteria in the mouth. Just make sure to pick a pack that bears the ADA seal: Products with it have been scientifically shown to help reduce plaque acids, promote remineralization of tooth enamel, and reduce cavities and gingivitis.

Clean Your Tongue
Lots of bacteria accumulate on your tongue, so scraping it is essential for avoiding bad breath. Designated tongue-scrapers are the most effective tool for the job, but you can use something like a plastic spoon -- or even your top row of teeth -- if you don’t have one on hand.

Eat an Apple
Some anecdotal evidence suggests that consuming fibrous fruits and veggies -- like apples or celery -- can help eliminate bad breath. Mechanically, the act of chewing them up rubs them against your teeth, which can help dislodge food particles. Boghosian cautions that it’s still no substitute for brushing, though.

Robin Hilmantel is an associate editor at Food Network Magazine. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, USA Today and Maxim, among other publications. She is a frequent contributor to Completely You.

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