ATLANTA - All of us have experienced bad breath.
But what can you do when that unpleasant odor just won't go away?
It's a problem Inman Park Dentistry's Dr. Alex Rodriguez sees almost every day in his practice.
He's formed some theories about what causes it.
"In general, bad breathe is coming from bacteria in your mouth, somewhere," says Dr. Rodriguez.
And that somewhere is usually our tongue.
"So one of the first recommendations we have for people who are doing all of the normal brushing and flossing is to include cleaning your tongue," Rodriguez says. "hey make products called tongue scrapers you can use to wipe your tongue."
The tongue, he says, is like a big carpet.
"There are spaces between the tuffs of the carpet and bacteria live in there," Rodriguez says. "So, if you're cleaning that off, that will help."
Germs can also accumulate between our teeth, and along our gumline.
That makes basic daily cleanings critical.
"Brushing and flossing," he says. "A lot of people underestimate how much surface are there really is around every single tooth."
A mouthwash can also help.
But, check the label, Rodriguez says. Some will only mask bad breath.
"If it's got a drug facts label that says anti-cavity, or anti-gingivitis, one of those sorts of things, that's going to be more effective," he says. "Things like Listerine are fantastic at getting rid of bacteria. Killing off bad bacteria."
Rodriguez also recommends his patients try sugar-free gum.
"Popping it in, chewing it for 15 or 20 minutes after every meal gets saliva flowing, gets little bits of food off the teeth," he says. "It's one of the best ways to clean things short of brushing or flossing."
Breath spray can also temporarily mask bad breath.
"But, hey, for that few minutes, where you're going out and your meeting someone for the first time, that's huge," Rodriguez says.
You best bet?
Rodriguez says ask your dentist for help, and don't be embarrassed.
"We want it better just as much as you do," he says. "Because we know it's not a smell issue. Unusually there is a health issue behind it. And we want your mouth to be healthy."