8 Home Remedies for Bad Breath
Simple steps to minimize halitosis and clear the air
Created by Preventions Magazines
Let’s face it, bad breath is embarrassing. The good news is that for the most part—with proper dental care—bad breath, also called halitosis, can be avoided. Maintaining good oral health is essential to reducing bad breath, as bacteria that builds up on the back of your tongue or in between your teeth is the main culprit. Bad breath can be caused by foods, smoking, dry mouth, medical conditions, gum disease and sinus conditions. No wonder dental hygiene is such big business.
If your halitosis hangs on for more than 24 hours without an obvious cause, call your dentist or doctor, says Roger P. Levin, D.D.S. It can be a sign of gum disease, gastrointestinal problems, sinus infection, bronchitis, or even more serious diseases, such as diabetes, liver or kidney failure, and cancer. Bad breath can also be a sign of dehydration or zinc deficiency.
Spice things up
Other herbs and spices in your kitchen are natural breath enhancers. Carry a tiny plastic bag of cloves, fennel, or anise seeds to chew after odoriferous meals.
Brush your tongue
"Most people overlook their tongue," says Dr. Eric Shapira, D.D.S. "Your tongue is covered with little hair-like projections, which under a microscope look like a forest of mushrooms. Under the caps of the 'mushrooms,' there's room to harbor plaque and some of the things we eat. That causes bad breath." His advice? While brushing, gently sweep the top of your tongue, too, so that you don't leave food and bacteria behind to breed bad breath.
Ban certain beverages
Coffee, beer, wine and whiskey are at the top of the list of liquid offenders. Each leaves a residue that can attach to the plaque in your mouth and infiltrate your digestive system. Each breath you take spews traces back into the air.
Carry a toothbrush
Some odors can be eliminated—permanently or temporarily—if you brush immediately after a meal. The main culprit in bad breath is a soft, sticky film of living and dead bacteria that clings to your teeth and gums, says Dr. Shapira. That film is called plaque. At any time, there are 50 trillion of these microscopic organisms loitering in your mouth. They sit in every dark corner, eating each morsel of food that passes your lips, collecting little smells, and producing little odors of their own. As you exhale, the bacteria exhale. So brush away the plaque after each meal and get rid of some of the breath problem.
Create your own gargle
Mix extracts of sage, calendula, and myrrh gum (all available at health food stores) in equal proportions and gargle with the mixture four times a day. Keep the mouthwash in a tightly sealed jar at room temperature. Even when you can't brush, you can rinse. Take a sip of water after meals, swish it around, and wash the smell of food from your mouth, says Jerry F. Taintor, D.D.S.
Eat your parsley
Parsley adds more than green to your lunch plate; it's also a breath-saver, because it contains chlorophyll, a known breath deodorizer. So pick up that sprig garnishing your plate and chew it thoroughly. Or toss a few handfuls (even add some watercress to the mix) in a juicer. Sip the juice anytime you need to refresh your breath.
Chew a mint or some gum
Like mouthwash, a breath mint or minty gum is just a cover-up, good for a short interview, a short ride in a compact car or a very short date.
Ease up on cheese
Camembert, Roquefort, and blue cheese are called strong for good reason—they get a hold on your breath and don't let go. Other dairy products may have the same effect.