Picture this: It’s 6 p.m. on a Thursday and you’ve gone out to the bar around the corner from your office with a few co-workers. Maybe the place is a little divey, or maybe it’s more of an oontz-oontz affair, whatever. Anyway, as you’re sipping your second half-priced craft brew, someone across the room catches your eye. You go over to greet them. Unfortunately, as you lean in to speak, each word is met with a wince, and before you even realize it, they’ve blown you off and gone back to talking with their friends.

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Womp. Besides a bad-hair day and having spinach stuck in your chompers, nothing can put a damper on your chances at success—both romantically and professionally—like a bout of foul mouth stink. On the plus side, however, treatment’s pretty easy.

First off, let’s talk about brushing. So you already do it when you wake up and before you go to bed. Good job. But if you’ve got funk regularly spewing out of your mouth, you’ve got to take your brushwork to the next level. Invest in a heavy-hitting electric option, like the Philips Sonicare HealthyWhite Plus, and use it after every meal to make sure that bacteria don’t have any leftovers to feast on. Additionally, it also wouldn’t hurt to follow that up with flossing and mouthwash, since even a good brush can miss a crumb or two between your teeth.

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Now, while tooth care plays a role when it comes to fighting bad breath, if you’re really looking to get down to business, then it’s your tongue that deserves your undivided attention. Moist and warm, it’s a veritable breeding ground for bacteria, which thrive in such environments. And as you can guess, these bacteria ain’t exactly the freshest-smelling. Therefore, there’s nothing more effective at taking care of a case of stinky breath than a tongue scraper; cheap and easy to use, they can help to remove unwanted bacteria, leaving your breath smelling a good bit less nasty in no time at all.

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Of course, those are only temporary fixes. If you’re going to get rid of bad breath for good, then you need to look at the underlying cause. And more often than not, that cause is going to be dehydration. You see, dehydration leads to a decrease in saliva production, which in turn leads to an increase in dead cells on your tongue and gums. These cells are then munched on by those same bacteria we were talking about earlier, which emit a particularly foul odor upon digestion. (Germ farts strike once again.) Fight back by making sure that your mouth is consistently moist and drinking a ton of liquids, thus shrinking your risk of game-killing halitosis. Steer clear of booze and coffee, though; besides imparting their own distinct funks onto your breath, they’re also both diuretics, so in the long run they’ll leave you at a moisture deficit.

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But what if you already drink a lot of water? Then alternatively, it might be your diet that’s stinking up the joint. Pungent foods like garlic and onions are the obvious targets, but they’re not the only foods that make you reek; sweets can also cause halitosis by further fueling your mouth bacteria with sugar, and low-carb, high-protein diets can make your body release ketones, which certainly don’t smell great either. So keep an eye on what you’re taking in, and maybe you can sort things out.

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Now, if you’ve done all that and you’re still a fire-breathing monster, then it may be high time to go see a doctor, since chronic, uncontrollable bad breath might be a sign of something clinical. And even if it’s not, the doctor may be able to help.

That is their job, after all.

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