Everyone has it now and then, and to varying degrees, but there are ways to avoid it. The subject is halitosis - bad breath - and Valentine's Day is not the time for it.
Offering helpful advice is Susanne Cohen, a dentist who left her practice to co-found Triumph Pharmaceuticals, maker of SmartMouth products (mouthwash, toothpaste, gum and mints; www.smartmouth.com).
To keep romance from fading, she advises:
Limit libations: Champagne or cocktails can help "set the mood for a romantic night, but alcohol can dehydrate the body and mouth. The result? Alcohol can cause or worsen bad breath on your big date. Limit yourself to one drink per hour and have a glass of water between each one."
Pass up protein-packed meals: Protein-rich foods feed "the germs that live in our mouths. From those proteins, germs create bad breath gases."
Take a break from coffee: So-called "coffee breath is not caused by drinking coffee alone. Coffee itself smells delicious (but) coffee breath is the result of coffee on top of already existing bad breath. Stick to water."
The chocolate challenge: Yes, chocolate can be a good thing - "Dark chocolate contains tryptophan, which triggers the release of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant" - but don't overdo it. "About an hour after eating chocolate, the germs that cause bad breath will begin to increase, putting you at risk for a less-than-fresh kiss."
Morning mouth: "Everyone wakes up with morning breath every day, especially if you over indulged in the above-mentioned bad-breath behaviors." Rinse, floss and brush before a morning kiss.
Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.