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It’s easy to wonder how to help bad breath go away because the cause isn’t always something you ate – dry mouth often plays a part at some point. Oral deficiencies like dry mouth are normal symptoms of everyday stress, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and many usual life events are stressful enough to cause it: a job interview, first date or something that can make an unpleasant smell just as embarrassing.

Rest assured there are simple and discreet ways to combat dry mouth. Consider these methods the next time you want to make a great first impression.

Stress and Dry Mouth

Decreased saliva flow is the primary reason for dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath. In other words, stress results in dry mouth because it can contribute to this decrease in saliva flow.

How? Dehydration and breathing through the mouth contribute to dry mouth, and in stressful situations, you may be too busy to eat, drink or breathe normally. That’s why dry mouth may be more likely when, for example, you are at a job interview or on a first date.

Reduce Your Stress, Resolve Bad Breath

The best strategy for this type of dry mouth is to reduce your stress level, and it’s easier than it sounds. Plus, once you feel calmer, stress-induced dry mouth can sometimes subside on its own. Taking deliberate breaths through your nose is one simple way to become calmer. Try not to breathe too quickly, but rather breathe in and out at a slow and even rhythm.

Another strategy is to drink water even if you aren’t thirsty. When you hydrate your body, you’re inevitably hydrating your mouth, allowing it to help wash away potent bacteria and salivate again. Try to avoid alcohol, coffee or tea, as they are actually dehydrating.

Not all dry mouth is caused by stress though, so it is best to speak with your dentist or doctor if you are experiencing chronic dry mouth, as it can be linked to other conditions or medications you may be taking.

Increase Saliva Flow and Reduce Dry Mouth

There are numerous quick tips to increase your natural flow of saliva, in addition to water. Chewing sugarless gum can help increase saliva production.

Xylitol sugarless lozenges will also help to stimulate saliva flow.

Of course, if you need to know how to help bad breath get better over the long term, start by taking care of your daily oral health.