Let's face it, bad breath is embarrassing. The good news is that for the most part (with proper dental care) bad breath, also called halitosis, can be avoided.

Maintaining good oral health is essential to reducing bad breath, as bacteria that builds up on the back of your tongue or in between your teeth is the main culprit.

Bad breath can be caused by foods, smoking, dry mouth, medical conditions, gum disease and sinus conditions.

If your halitosis hangs on for more than 24 hours without an obvious cause, call your dentist or doctor. It can be a sign of gum disease, gastrointestinal problems, sinus infection, bronchitis or even more serious diseases such as diabetes, liver or kidney failure, and cancer. Bad breath can also be a sign of dehydration or zinc deficiency.
The best approach is to get rid of it once and for all:

1. Clean your mouth thoroughly and regularly to get rid of bacteria and decaying food particles. Clean your tongue too and floss where chunks of food may hide and later stick to your gums and teeth.

2. Keep your mouth moisturized. A dry mouth tends to become stinky. Saliva physically washes bacteria and food particles away and also has antiseptic and enzymes that kill bacteria,
If you have to meet your partner, chew sugar-less

gum to stimulate saliva production. Mints do not encourage saliva production but they cover up the bad odour.

Drink water. It will not necessarily increase saliva production, but it will wash out your mouth. If a dry mouth is caused by medications, consult a doctor.

3. Reduce intake of notorious stink foods like onions, garlic, cheese, and coffee (or at least brush vigorously after eating them).

4. If you are on a low carbohydrate diet, eat a banana. A body starved of carbohydrates (as people try to loose weight or fast) breaks down fats for energy. The reaction creates ketones, some of which are released in your mouth. Unfortunately, ketones smell bad, and so will your breath. Throwing in a healthy carb-rich snack like an apple or banana helps.

5. Ban certain beverages. Alcohol consumption may leave a foul smell, especially the next day. Coffee, beer, wine and whiskey are at the top of the list of liquid offenders.
Each leaves a residue that can attach to the plaque in your mouth and infiltrate your digestive system. Each breathe you take spews traces back into the air. It is worse with sweet wines and spirits.

If your partner is not taking the same stuff, brush thoroughly before meeting or avoid it altogether if you plan on having a romantic rendezvous.

6. Quit smoking. Tar and nicotine can build up on the surface of the teeth, tongue, cheeks and also inhibit saliva flow. It is said that kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray.

7. Use mouthwash if you are uncomfortable with your breath odour. Look for one that kills the germs that cause bad breath or plaque-reducing mouthwash with medical approval.

8. Carry a toothbrush. Some odours can be eliminated (permanently or temporarily) if you brush every after a meal. The main culprit in bad breath is a soft, sticky film of living and dead bacteria that clings to your gums and teeth.

That film is called plaque. At any time, there are 50 trillion of these microscopic organisms loitering in your mouth. They sit in every dark corner, eating each morsel of food that passes your lips, collecting little smells, and producing little odours of their own. As you exhale, the bacteria exhale.

So, brush away the plaque after each meal and get rid of some of the breath problems. Even when you can't brush, you can rinse. Take a sip of water after meals, swish it around, and wash the smell of food from your mouth.

9. Eat your parsley. Parsley adds more than green to your lunch plate; it's also a breath-saver, because it contains chlorophyll. A known breath deodorizer.

10. Brush your tongue. Most people overlook their tongue. Your tongue is covered with little hair-like projections, which under a microscope look like a forest of mushrooms. Under the caps of the 'mushrooms'.

There is room to harbor plaque and some of the things we eat. That causes bad breath. So while brushing, gently sweep the top of your tongue, too, so that you don't leave food and bacteria behind to breed bad breath.