Bad breath happens to nearly all of us at some time. It’s embarrassing and can impact your work, social and intimate life. Luckily, bad breath can often be prevented or stopped with some basic, natural care and treatments.
A variety of issues can cause bad breath, which is medically known as halitosis. Poor dental hygiene can promote odor-causing bacteria to build up in your mouth. Certain foods and lifestyle habits, such as smoking, can also impact your breath.
Bad breath may be a sign of other health conditions as well, like tonsillitis or gingivitis. If you have persistent bad breath, always check with your dentist or doctor to rule out anything more serious.
Even if you’ve dealt with the underlying causes, there may still be days when your breath is just off. Or you simply want to freshen up your morning breath. Either way, read on to find out some natural ways to combat bad breath.
1. TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH AND GUMS
You’ve heard it before, but it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day in order to fight bacteria and plaque. Also, floss once a day to remove food debris from in between your teeth. If you don’t like commercial toothpastes, there are many excellent natural toothpaste options. Care2 has a recipe for homemade toothpaste. Consider adding activated charcoal to your brushing routine as well.
Oil pulling has also been shown to improve oral health and reduce smelly bacteria, as well as scraping your tongue each morning. And if you have a mouth guard or dentures, make sure you regularly disinfect them.
2. SUPPORT YOUR GUT
Bad breath can be a sign of poor digestion, so what’s good for your gut is good for your breath. Eating foods that are rich in probiotics is an excellent way to boost your beneficial bacteria, which will out-compete any unwanted bacteria. You can also check out these other suggestions on how to supercharge your digestion.
3. SWISH WITH BAKING SODA
Rinsing with a baking soda solution is shown to effectively kill mouth bacteria. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water and swish some in your mouth for at least 30 seconds. You can also add a couple drops of essential oil to the mix for extra anti-bacterial action, such as peppermint, tea tree or clove oil.
4. GO HERBAL
Chewing on fresh herbs will give you a quick breath pick-me-up. Mint, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley and cilantro are all well-known bacteria fighters that will also leave a delicious aftertaste behind. Brewing them into a tea is another good option.
5. SPICE IT UP
Aromatic spices like fennel, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger or anise provide a tasty way to counteract any unpleasant smell on your breath. You can chew on whole seeds when possible or steep some spices to make a tea. Enjoy the tea as a hot drink or use it cooled as a mouthwash.
6. EAT HEALTHY CARBOHYDRATES
Bad breath can be an unfortunate side-effect of low-carb diets. When your body breaks down fats instead of carbohydrates for energy, it creates foul-smelling ketones. Production of ketones is the body’s reaction to starvation. And that’s one reason why they smell bad, because it’s a sign something is wrong.
It’s always recommended to avoid refined carbohydrates, like white bread and potato chips. But make sure you eat enough healthy carbohydrates to properly fuel your body, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
7. STAY HYDRATED
You naturally produce about 1 liter of saliva every day. Saliva contains enzymes that break down any lingering food particles in your mouth, keeping bacteria at bay. Low saliva production can lead to nasty breath as the bacteria counts in your mouth rise. If your mouth feels dry, reach for some water. Also give your mouth a quick swish for extra cleaning action.
Other effective breath-freshening drinks are cow’s milk and green tea. The fat in milk is able to neutralize odor-causing compounds from certain foods, such as the sulphur in garlic. And a 2011 study showed that green tea can reduce mouth bacteria and prevent bad breath and plaque build-up.
But, not all drinks are created equal. Coffee and alcohol should be avoided as they both dry out your mouth and promote bad breath.
8. NOSH ON FRUIT AND VEGGIES
A diet rich in vitamins and minerals helps your overall health, including your digestive health. And when your body is in good health, you’re far less likely to develop bad breath. Fruits and vegetables are the best natural source of vitamins and minerals, so make sure you get your recommended 5 to 9 servings per day.
Vitamin C is particularly effective at curbing bad breath because it’s known to prevent gingivitis and gum disease, which can be major causes of halitosis. Reach for peppers, kale, broccoli, strawberries, cauliflower, pineapple, kiwi and citrus fruits as these are all especially high in vitamin C. Apples and lettuce have also been shown to be effective at stopping garlic breath.
If you want to prevent bad breath in the first place, avoid foods known to foul your breath, such as onions, garlic, meats, cheese and sugary foods.