This article is reprinted from Men’s Health.
What: A lot of times your sinuses, not your mouth, are to blame. Inflamed nasal passages caused by allergies or a chronic infection can breed bad breath in two ways. First, a stuffy nose forces you to breathe through your mouth, which dries up saliva that would otherwise kill the bacteria that causes bad breath. Then there’s post-nasal drip: Mucus slides down the back of your nose, onto the back of your tongue. This slime feeds bacteria, which in turn breed volatile sulfur compounds, creating foul oral odor.
Solution: Gargle with mouthwash before bed instead of in the morning. Your mouth produces less saliva at night—and more bacteria, which means more sulfurous stink bombs. Swish mouthwash for 30 seconds, targeting the back of the tongue by tilting your head back and breathing through your nose. Breath still able to kill small animals? See an ear, nose, and throat specialist, who can diagnose and treat sinus infections. (To locate one, go to entnet.org and click on “Find an ENT.”)
A Painless Bump
What: No pain doesn’t mean no problem. Stick out your tongue and look for a white or red patch, a yellow-gray ulcer with a red halo, or a thickening of tissue. Each can signal oral cancer.
Solution: Call your dentist for a cancer screening if the bump doesn’t disappear within 10 days.
Dark or Fuzzy Patches
What: These could be colonies of bacteria stained by coffee, tea, or tobacco.
Solution: Remove them and stop further growth by using a tongue scraper daily. See your doctor or dentist for antibiotics to stop the infection.
Redness and Pain
What: If your tongue is as red as a cherry Popsicle, it could be glossitis—a painful or swollen tongue. More common in men than in women, it can be a sign of vitamin deficiency, infection, or even a food allergy. Smoking or drinking can also bring it on.
Solution: See your doctor for a definitive diagnosis. He may prescribe supplements, antibiotics, or allergy meds to clear it up.