Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air and many of us are hoping for a smooch from our sweetie. Make sure you’re prepped to pucker up with these 5 tips to make yourself completely kissable!
1. Try a Sugar Scrub for Soft Lips
Nobody wants to cuddle up to rough, cracked, crusty lips. Be sure your lips are soft and supple for your date! (And yes, this applies to the guys, too.) You can make a quick-and-easy homemade exfoliating lip scrub with a couple of simple ingredients.
First, grab some granulated sugar. We know, it’s a shock coming from your dentist. You can mix sugar with your favorite lip balm or petroleum jelly to scrub dry skin off your lips. Just apply with your fingers and give it a good rub to smooth out rough spots.
To keep your lips soft, avoid licking them when they feel dry. It may seem counterintuitive, but your saliva can actually dry your lips out even more! Instead, apply a protective balm that will seal moisture into your lips. Bonus points if it has SPF!
2. Bacteria Stinks: Be Plaque-Free for Better Breath
Great home care is a cornerstone of great oral health. It’s also the best way to keep your breath fresh. The bacterial plaques that grow on our teeth are packed with microbes that eat and digest nutrients just like we do. And just like us, their digestive process can make them gassy. Oral bacteria produce a whole host of compounds that give off foul odors. In fact, they can even produce methyl mercaptan, one of the main chemicals that makes flatulence stink. It’s so potent it’s often added to dangerous but odorless gasses as a safety measure—because it smells so bad you’ll want to avoid breathing it in!
We know we sound like a broken record sometimes, but it really is super easy to reduce your oral bacteria populations and be sure you have kissably fresh breath. Brush well twice daily for two minutes and floss at least once per day.
Flossing is especially important for fresher breath. The bacteria between your teeth are some of the most volatile and produce strong odors. On top of which, even small particles of food debris trapped between your teeth will start to break down if they’re left behind. Nobody wants to pucker up if your breath smells like the kitchen garbage!
3. Brush Your Tongue
There is one more area of great home care many people skip, but that can really impact your kissability: brushing your tongue! Our tongues have tons of texture, which makes them a great surface for bacteria to grow. The skin of your tongue can hold onto bacteria, dead cells, food debris, and mucus. Not super appealing for your Valentine.
How do you know if your tongue is dirty? Stick your tongue out in the mirror and take a look! If it’s coated with a layer of white, your tongue needs some TLC.
Cleaning your tongue can be done in several ways. Brushing it is always a great approach, but sometimes leaves plaque behind. You can use a tongue scraper to remove what brushing won’t. In a pinch, you can even use a spoon! Just turn it face-down and drag the edge of the spoon down the length of your tongue. There are also specialized tools such as the OraBrush which work wonders.
If brushing your tongue makes you gag, try pinching the tip of your tongue with a dry washcloth while you do it. Also avoid brushing too far back, which can trigger your gag reflex. Gargling mouthwash can help address malodor from the throat and the back part of your tongue. An antimicrobial rinse like Listerine can kill microbes and freshen your breath. Warm salt water is also a great option, as it helps to break down mucus and prevent bacteria from sticking around.
4. Stick to Stink-Free Foods
Not all bad breath comes from your mouth. Some of it comes from deeper in the body. Specifically, your stomach! We all know there are certain foods that can give you serious dragon breath. It’s best to avoid foods heavy in garlic and onion, for example. But why do certain foods offend more than others?
It’s mostly a question of how different foods break down over time. Foods that release volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) can be major offenders because certain VSCs are associated with food that’s spoiled, and most people are super sensitive to detecting them. Ironically, they’re also a contributing factor to the fresh scents and flavors of many tropical fruits! It’s a “too much of a good thing” situation.
In general, you want to avoid any foods that smell bad as they break down, and that can dry out your mouth. Here’s a short list of foods that cause bad breath:
- Garlic, onion, and anything from the Allium family (leeks, scallions, chives, etc.)
- Wine, coffee, and any beverages that can cause dry mouth
- Excessive protein and low-carb diets that can lead to malodor known as keto-breath
- Acidic foods like citrus and pasta sauce that create a great environment for bacteria
- Cheese, which can react with oral bacteria to create those pesky VSCs
In general, eating a well-balanced diet helps to support healthy teeth and gums. To be sure you can fight bad breath on Valentine’s Day, bring some sugar-free gum on your date! Chewing sugar-free gum can freshen your breath and remove plaque and food debris, making it a date-night must-have!
We Should Also Mention…
As a side note, smoking can also lead to pungent malodor from elsewhere in the body. Regardless of if you’re smoking tobacco or something else, inhaling smoke produces odor-causing compounds from deep in the tissues of your lungs, throat, mouth, and even stomach. Cutting back or ideally quitting smoking will leave you with significantly fresher breath within days. Bonus, quitting can also help improve your sense of smell!
5. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate!
Dry mouth and dehydration can cause seriously stinky breath. Drinking plenty of water is an essential strategy for how to fight bad breath. Hydrating can help fight bad breath in many ways. Drinking enough water actually addresses all of our other tips, too!
First, hydrated lips are soft lips! Dry skin becomes rough and flaky, so drinking water is a key way to keep the skin of your lips healthy. Second, drinking water cleanses your mouth! Swishing and drinking water can sweep food debris and those odor-causing compounds away, helping to decrease their scent-producing potential. Third, drinking plenty of water helps prevent bacteria from building up. Being under-hydrated can leave your mouth dry and sticky, helping bacteria stick. Good hydration helps your body create enough saliva, an essential part of dental health and fresh breath.
Whether you’re in a committed relationship, a complicated situationship, or you’re a single Pringle, we hope you can show your teeth some TLC this Valentine’s Day! Enjoy fresh breath and great oral health, Orlando!