22/05/2014 08:09 BST | Updated 22/05/2014 08:59 BST

How To Deal With Bad Breath

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Bad breath isn't the worst condition to have in the world, but it certainly doesn't make friends. From meetings in close quarters to chatting in the lift, it can really put people off - and that's before we get to the impact on your dating life.

Bad breath - or halitosis as it's called - is usually poorly received because one of the biggest reasons for it is poor oral hygiene. This translates to not brushing or cleaning your teeth regularly enough.

"Bacteria that build up on a person's teeth, tongue and gums can cause plaque (the soft, white deposit that forms on the teeth's surface), gum disease and tooth decay. The bacteria combine with saliva to break down food particles and proteins – this releases an unpleasant-smelling gas," says the NHS.

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Other reasons include not drinking enough water.

"Bacteria builds up when you have a dry mouth and the obvious way to combat this is to drink water regularly," writes Lifehacker.com. "If your mouth stays hydrated and is producing saliva regularly, you reduce the chances of bad breath."

Morning breath is common even if you don't suffer from halitosis. This occurs because 'saliva production nearly stops during sleep, which allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath."

The NHS elaborated on a number of things that can exacerbate bad breath including drinking tea and coffee, taking certain medications such as nitrates, smoking and crash dieting.

But what if you're trying to figure out if you have bad breath in the first place? Don't use the cup-your-hands method, instead lick the back of your hand and smell it.

Alternatively - and good luck trying this one at the office - take a spoon, says Dr Harold Katz, bacteriologist and founder of the California Breath Clinic, scrape your tongue, let the contents of the spoon dry and then smell it.

So what are the solutions? Brush your teeth regularly, drink lots of water and keep an antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine at work so that if any bacteria is still in your teeth, it will take care of it.

Dietitian Moloo, says MSN Healthy Living, says while you can avoid foods, some foods can aid nice-smelling breath. "“Two cups of tea a day can prevent bad breath for some. The polyphenols, a plant chemical in tea, may prevent growth of bacteria responsible for bad breath.” You can also chew parsley, which seems to curb offending smells from other foods and bacteria. And cranberries may eliminate offensive smells and make the bacteria less sticky, which makes plaque less likely to form."

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