The day of love is fast-approaching -- and, of course, one of the best ways to celebrate is by laying a big smooch on your loved one.
But we've got a question for you to mull over: How's your breath?
We've all fallen victim to bad breath (whether we realized it or not), but there are certain steps you can take to avoid an odorous kiss this Valentine's Day. Of course, maintaining good oral hygiene is first and foremost, the Mayo Clinic advises. If you don't keep your mouth clean, little particles of food can stay in there, causing more bacteria to grow (as well as odor). Plus, if you're bad about brushing your teeth and flossing, all the bacteria that builds up in your mouth can lead to painful gum disease, which is also bad for breath.
Typically, it's not actually the teeth at the root of bad breath -- rather, the bacteria that grows on the tongue may be more to blame, Dr. Harold Katz, founder of the California Breath Clinic, told CNN. So the best way to test if you have bad breath is actually not to smell your breath in your cupped hands, but rather to lick your hand, let the saliva dry, and then give it a sniff, Katz said.
Of course, some medical conditions can bring on bad breath. Dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) can cause halitosis, as can oral infections and other oral conditions, and even some diseases, such as acid reflux and cancer.
But for many of us, bad breath is something we can take steps to prevent, by cleaning our mouths and being conscientious of the foods we eat (hello, onion and garlic breath). For some foods that can help us maintain sweet-smelling breath, we spoke to registered dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.