It happens to everyone. You’re just about to go into the big business meeting and meet a whole new set of connections, or you’re about to walk into the restaurant to meet your blind date. And then you start to panic. Do I look OK? What do I say? Does my breath smell OK?! What did I have for lunch?! Bad breath can happen to anyone; surely everyone has suffered from a bad case of morning breath! But unfortunately there are those times where it goes beyond that. Bad breath is caused by high sulphides and sulphur salts in the body. Fortunately there are a few things you can do to help get rid of your bad breath. As you might have guessed, a few of these things have to do with keeping up your basic oral hygiene, while other ways may not be so well-known and may be good tricks to keep up your sleeve!
15 Keep up your oral hygiene
This one may seem obvious, but it’s really important to keep up your basic oral hygiene, and a lapse in your routine may be the cause of any bad breath. You need to make sure to adequately deal with any plaque, bacteria, and leftover food particles, and make sure you’re avoiding getting any cavities. The good news is, this one is really easy to fix. Make sure you’re brushing your teeth at least two times per day, that you are keeping your gums healthy, and that you are flossing. If you think you need to brush a third time, it’s really easy to keep a travel-sized toothbrush in your bag, and floss is easy to carry with you too.
14 Rinse out your mouth
If the basics still just aren’t quite cutting it, make sure you’re rinsing your mouth out too. You can start with a simple swish or two of plain water and see if that helps, but if that’s just not cutting it, you may need something a bit stronger. You can try any conventional mouthwash, which should have antibacterial properties, as well as breath freshening flavors. They are most effective when they contain zinc and chlorhexidine. You can also try gargling with salt water. While it won’t taste pleasant, it will help sterilize your mouth. You can also try making a baking soda mouth wash. Baking soda helps balance the levels of acids in your mouth that contribute to bad breath. To make these homemade remedies a bit more palatable, you can try adding some peppermint oil. When choosing, be careful about mouthwashes with alcohol in them- they may dry out the mouth, actually making the problem worse in the long run, despite the clean feeling and fresh breath you get right away.
13 Don’t forget your tongue
Another step up from the very basics, don’t forget to clean your tongue too. The rough and bumpy texture of the tongue is the perfect place for bacteria to get stuck in and flourish, as this is where many food particles will remain after eating. This may be particularly bad for some people, who have rougher tongues. Bacteria will start eating these leftover food particles, and this will cause odor. It’s important to ensure that while cleaning your teeth, you remember to clean your tongue too. This can be done with your toothbrush, with a special tongue scraper, or at the very least, rinsing with some good mouthwash. This should be done at least once a day.
12 Stay hydrated
Of course it’s important to stay hydrated. It’s good for your skin, for mental clarity, and to stay generally healthy, so it’s important to make sure to drink enough water. It’s also important for your oral health and to reduce bad breath. Decreasing dehydration is a good first step in ensuring that your mouth stays moistened. Saliva not only physically helps wash away any food particles and bacteria, but also contains helpful enzymes and has antiseptic properties that kill bacteria in order to ensure that your mouth stays clean and fresh. If you find you have a dry mouth, try increasing how much water you drink, and if that doesn’t work, try chewing some gum or sucking on a hard candy, which will stimulate the salivary glands. To mitigate any harmful effects, try to make sure the gum or candy is sugar free!
11 Eat the garnish
Have you ever wondered what those leafy bits- the garnishes- on top of restaurant meals are actually doing there? Do they serve a purpose? Does anyone actually do anything with them? Turns out, they do serve a practical purpose. Many of these garnishes, including parsley, basil, and mint will help to freshen your breath for at least a little while when eaten after your meal. They cleanse the palate, and their fresh smell will help mask any odour. They also contain chlorophyll which has antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and helps to neutralize the toxins and pollutants you ingest daily. Besides these garnishes, many meals will also contain a variety of herbs and spices that may help eliminate bad breath. Cinnamon contains cinnamic aldehyde, an essential oil that not only covers up bad breath, but also reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth. Cloves help freshen your breath and also have antibacterial properties, and cardamom is high in a compound called cineole, a potent antiseptic that kills bacteria and alleviates bad breath. When you’re on a date or business meeting, perhaps look out for dishes with some of these ingredients.
10 Reach for the lemon
Another type of food with good odor-fighting properties are citrus fruits. Grab a piece of lemon or orange peel and chew on it for a while. Not only will you get a nice burst of flavor, but the citric acid will help stimulate the salivary glands, which will then help to reduce bacteria. You can also try drinking lemon water, and hope you get the benefits of the citrus and hydration (never a bad idea!). Just be careful about doing this too often. The acidity of the lemon peel may be harmful to your teeth, so could do some damage in the long run.
9 Have a cup of tea
Another remedy is to grab a cup of your favorite tea. While we’ve all started to learn how great tea can really be for us, new research by the University of Chicago, presented at the American Society of Microbiology, is also showing it is good for fighting halitosis. Polyphenols, the chemical compounds found in black and green tea, can prevent the growth of the bacteria, as well as the sulphur compounds that are released by the bacteria, which are responsible for the bad smell. Definitely a good reason to go and grab another cup!! (As if you needed one…)
8 Watch your diet
When thinking about losing or maintaining weight, you’ve likely been told to cut the carbs. As if that’s not hard enough already, because pasta is delicious (and quick and easy!), it may also be one of the causes of your bad breath. A low carb, high protein diet can cause the body to enter ketosis. While your body is burning stored fats for energy, chemicals called ketones are released and accumulated in the body before being released through your breath. Since this is a metabolic issue, and directly related to your diet, there’s not much you can do here to freshen your breath other than to change what you’re eating. If you have tried this type of diet, and you’re experience this as a side-effect, maybe it’s time to explore another option?
7 Avoid certain foods
There are definitely certain foods to avoid if you want to avoid bad breath, and if you want to keep up your oral hygiene. As tempting as they are, sugary foods should be avoided as much as possible, to discourage tooth decay, which can lead to a variety of issues. More obviously, avoid onions and garlic if you know you’re going to be in a situation where you need fresh breath. The smell of these foods can’t even be brushed away. The flavors and odors of these types of foods, from the Allium family, are actually absorbed into our bodies and into our blood stream, and then the odors are breathed out through our lungs. The only way to avoid this type of incident is to avoid the foods altogether, unfortunately. Don’t necessarily eliminate them completely from your diet though- as bad as they may smell, they also have a range of health benefits. Just be selective about when you’re eating them pertaining to what your plans are for the rest of the day.
6 Reach for the right foods
While there are certainly foods and diets to be avoided, there are also foods you should reach for that might help you manage your breath and leave your mouth feeling fresh, beyond citrus and herbs. Eating raw, fresh, and crunchy foods like vegetables and fruits, especially ones like carrots, raw cucumber, and fresh pears might help. For example, apples contain pectin which stimulates saliva production and reduces food odour, and many of these foods will also contain high levels of antioxidants which will help boost dental health, as well as your overall health. There are some good snack recipes you can have on hand to help with this (and to help reduce other cravings!). Try this one:
1 cup apple chunks
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup diced celery
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup crushed walnuts
3 to 5 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt (the active cultures help reduce bacteria)
Ground cinnamon (antimicrobial)
Mix the apple, carrot, celery, cranberries, and walnuts together in a large bowl. Add yogurt by the tablespoon to moisten the mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (Serves two.)
5 Chew gum
While you should not necessarily reach for a package of mints after dinner, as in most cases this just temporarily covers up the smell, you should reach for some gum. Chewing gum can help stimulate the salivary glands, aiding your mouth in its own cleansing process, while also providing that same burst of freshness as a mint. The caveat here is to try not to reach for something too sweet, and to go for sugar free if you can. Chewing gum with sugar might have the opposite effects in the long term, since sugar encourages plaque, decay, and bacterial growth. If you need some flavors to reach for, go for classic mint, or for cinnamon, which not only tastes good, but is also antimicrobial.
4 Stop smoking
It’s not exactly a secret that smoking is bad for your health, but it can be detrimental in ways you may not have even thought of. Besides leading to serious illness like cancer, smoking can also cause aging of the skin, stained teeth and fingers, damaged gums, and bad breath. It can lead to a dry mouth environment, exacerbating any oral hygiene issues, and cause plaque build up, leading to gum disease. It’s important to quit as soon as possible (smoking or chewing), as it will only do wonders for your health, and eventually, for your breath too. You may actually notice your breath getting worse for a while after quitting- it’s actually you just noticing how bad it’s been! It may take a while for your body to readjust. In the meantime, you can try some of the other solutions to keep your breath as fresh as possible. You can also try getting your teeth professionally cleaned, so you really do start with the cleanest mouth possible.
3 Take a shot
This one is certainly a bit more on the unconventional side, and may not be exactly appropriate for all situations- you probably shouldn’t pull out a bottle of vodka at work and do some shots in the middle of the day (save that for the Christmas party). But some home remedies do suggest taking a shot of a clear, sugarless liquid to help with bad breath. Vodka fits the profile best, with no lingering aftertaste, with the idea being to kill the bacteria in the mouth, which could help remove bad breath. This, however, may be a temporary solution at best, as alcohol can also dry the mouth out, leading to dehydration and inadequate saliva production. This is definitely only a quick fix and no alternative solution- also best saved for after work.
2 Check your medications
If things still aren’t getting any better after trying all of the tips above, it’s time to investigate any medications you might have and their possible side-effects. If you’ve started a new medication and that’s when you’ve started noticing your bad breath, they may be related. Some medications may make your mouth dry, which in turn causes the bad smell. This is often a side-effect of medications like antihistamines for chronic allergies, antidepressants, blood pressure pills, and anti-anxiety medications. You can talk to your doctor about any of these side effects, and perhaps trying out different medications, or try talking to your dentist. They may be able to recommend products to deal with the dryness you are experiencing, such as special mouthwash or toothpaste, which will have salivary substitutes to help lubricate your mouth.
1 Go for a check up
Finally, if you’ve tried all of the above, and you still seem to have a persistent problem with bad breath, it’s time to go for a check up. Don’t be afraid to go see your dentist, and your regular family doctor. Occasionally, bad breath can be a sign of a much more serious issue, and will need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. This can range from issues like unclean dentures, to gum disease, tooth decay, or an abscess, to a serious sinus infection, strep throat, tonsillitis, or much more serious issues including diabetes. In these cases, your bad breath will be a symptom, not the primary concern. It is recommended that you have a twice yearly dental check up, and yearly physician check up to ensure your best overall health.