While savvy Casanovas may know to avoid garlic and raw onions before a hot date, there are other factors beyond pungent foods that contribute to a malodorous mouth. The two key things leading to breath worthy of a dog or a dragon are oral hygiene and gastrointestinal health. Brushing and flossing after every meal can address the first issue; a good diet and healthy gastrointestinal track can help with the second.
But for the times when you can’t brush or the diet’s not up to snuff, there are some great quick fixes that are as close as the refrigerator; some actually work to clean your mouth, while others help neutralize the stomach to help quash the stench. Consider these edible remedies and breathe easier.
1. Fresh herbs
Parsley is one of the better-known bad breath fighters, but that doesn’t mean that other fresh green herbs aren’t effective, as well. Cilantro, spearmint, tarragon, rosemary and other chlorophyll-rich herbs all do wonders for sticking it to the stink. You can chew on them as is, or make a rinse by steeping them in hot water and drinking like a tea.
A daily serving of yogurt has been shown to reduce the level of odor-causing hydrogen sulfide in the mouth, as well as diminishing unhealthy bacteria. One study showed a reduction in plaque and gum disease in yogurt eaters as well. The American Dietetic Association confirms this by recommending vitamin D from yogurt, cheese and milk for fighting halitosis because it creates an unpleasant environment for bacteria growth. Just be wary of brands with a lot of refined sugar, and make sure that active cultures are listed on the label.
3. Apples, celery and other crunchy foods
If it comes from the produce aisle and provides an audible crunch, it will probably help fight bad breath. Think apples, carrots, celery and the like, which work to increase saliva production and keep the mouth rinsed and scrubbed.
Ginger has long been used as a natural remedy for upset stomachs. In the same vein, it is often used for knocking out halitosis. To make a homemade ginger rinse, dice fresh ginger and mix with lemon and hot water. Read up on the health benefits of ginger. You’d be surprised.
5. Peppers, papayas and other vitamin C-rich foods
Bad-breath producing bacteria does not get along well with vitamin C, which is an important dietary component for preventing gum disease and gingivitis. While many people take vitamin C supplements, they can cause gastrointestinal problems that can further add to bad breath. Oranges have a good reputation for their vitamin C levels, but other foods like bell peppers, papayas and strawberries have even more.
6. Green tea
While the acids and enzymes in coffee might make your mouth smell like a mix of dirty socks and an outhouse, green tea actually prevents bad breath. According to MSN.com, the flavonoids in green tea prevent bad breath and help keep harmful bacteria from sticking to teeth, among its many other health benefits.
7. Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds have been appreciated by many cultures as a digestive aid. They are similarly employed as a remedy for bad breath because they help neutralize unpleasant odors. Like crunchy foods, they encourage production of saliva, which helps rinse bacteria away. The oil from fennel seeds also has antibacterial properties that can fight odor-generating germs.
Yet another reason to get your daily H₂O. In general, water acts as a cleanser and encourages saliva production; swishing water helps rid the mouth of food that bacteria feasts upon.
9. Minty things
When all else fails, mask and rinse with gum or mints. Sugarless gum can increase saliva production to gently wash away plaque and bacteria; mints can mask as well. Just remember that sugar creates plaque, which leads to halitosis, so aim for one that is low in sugar or sugar-free.
And a word to the wise: If your oral hygiene and diet are in good shape but the halitosis remains, consider consulting a doctor or dentist since bad breath can be a sign of an underlying condition.