No one wants to have to shield their mouths or not get too close to others because of bad breath. Daily changes and healthy habits should be explored so that you’re not that person who is constantly being offered a mint.
How do you cure bad breath permanently? Curing bad breath is all about taking preventative measures. Your daily routine needs to be focused on proper brushing techniques, flossing, and tongue scraping for maximum results. Other ways to prevent it will rely on you making smart choices for food, beverages, and kicking any tobacco habits.
A beautiful smile should never have to be accompanied by bad breath. But for many, that is the case, and it is an issue that requires diligence and thoughtfulness. So, let’s talk about some of the key ways to keep your breath fresh.
Hygiene Techniques and Proper Cleaning Routines
Although there are many different causes and sources to having bad breath, the most obvious and common one starts with your dental hygiene.
It’s pretty basic stuff at the core of it all. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t suffer from chronic bad breath, if you don’t brush in the morning, your breathing is not going to be smelling like roses.
But beyond the basics of brushing to have a minty fresh breath, you have to consider other hygienic options for your oral care routine. Just brushing won’t always do the trick, and it definitely won’t do you any favors for the long-term.
1. Brushing Techniques and Tips
You should be brushing twice daily as a minimum. If you have a history of cavities or are concerned about bad breath, you should try to brush after each meal. Bad breath, otherwise known as Halitosis, is typically caused by bacteria build-up.
Some bacteria are normal for everyone, and it plays an important role in our gum health, so you don’t want all of it gone. But what we don’t want is bacteria building up and creating oral issues for us.
Brushing at least twice per day will help keep the bacteria to the lowest amount possible while encouraging a healthy, shining smile.
If you have any specific gum or teeth conditions, definitely have a chat with your dentist about what type of toothpaste will be best for your specific needs.
Key Ingredients in Toothpaste and Mouthwash
Fluoride and Triclosan are two key ingredients you’ll see on labels for dental health products. Here are the key differences:
The FDA has approved three different types of fluoride – sodium, stannous, sodium monofluorophosphate.
Plaque and gingivitis are words we hear all the time from our dentists and in commercials for dental products.
Fluoride has been proven to target the bacteria that specifically causes halitosis.
Both of these are chief culprits in the bad breath war.
You will ideally want to find a toothpaste that contains at least one of these types of fluoride if you’re concerned about your breath.
Toothpastes that contain triclosan have been proven to effectively prevent plaque and gingivitis and inhibiting the growth of halitosis causing bacteria.
According to ScienceDaily, there are an estimated 800 to 1000 different kinds of bacteria in our mouths. When you think about it from that perspective, an extra round of teeth-brushing throughout your day sounds better and better.
Choosing the best toothpaste to fit your needs is the first step. But making sure you are brushing properly is equally as important.
Brushing too aggressively can cause decay in your teeth as well as receding gum lines, or gum sensitivity. So, there’s no need to go overboard.
You also want to make sure you’re targeting the backs of your teeth as well. Tartar buildup can be a big issue for front bottom teeth. So as much as you want the fronts of those teeth sparkling for the world to see, don’t forget that bad breath can be originating from the backs of them just as easily.
2. Non-negligible Facts About Flossing, Mouthwash & Tongue Scraping
I’m just as guilty as the next person when it comes to skimping on some of these things because we’re rushing out the door in the morning or can’t wait to hop into bed. For overall oral care, but specifically for combating bad breath, these extra steps will go a long way.
1). Flossing: Techniques & Common Mistakes
- Floss before you brush
- Use about 18 inches of floss
- Wrap most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the other middle finger
- Grasp the floss between your thumb and forefinger to guide it between teeth
- Once the floss reaches your gums, make sure to go around the tooth in a ‘C’ like motion to ensure it is getting all sides.
- After the base of the tooth has been covered, go up and down the tooth so the entire side is cleaned
- Repeat steps with the adjacent tooth and then get in between each set
Common Mistake: Just “picking” with the floss. If you’re only sliding the floss in between the teeth and directly back out, it’s not doing its full job. Another common motion is to get it in between the teeth but then go front to back with it. This will help clear away some, but not nearly as much as is required by the other motions listed above.
Mouthwash: Must-Knows & Common Mistakes
- Ingredients to look for in your mouthwash: fluoride, antimicrobials, astringent salt, odor neutralizers, and whiteners such as peroxide.
- Read the instructions for any product, as they may be different for usage. For example, the amount to use or how long to swish it in your mouth. Most tend to be 30-60 seconds, but again make sure to read instructions.
- There is no steadfast rule on when you have to do it. It won’t make a difference in the effectiveness if you do it before or after brushing/flossing. This is more about your preference than anything.
Common Mistake: Not using it long enough, but instead using it more frequently. It’s easy to just think, “Hey, let me do a quick swish after lunch, and again after that afternoon coffee, and then another one tonight.” That may give you a nice fresh, minty sensation for a few minutes, but it’s not benefiting you in the long term.
It is better to stick to once or twice per day and swishing it for the full amount of time listed in the instructions. If you just do a few seconds here and there, you’re just wasting the mouthwash.
Tongue Scraping: Must-Knows & Common Mistakes
- Scraping should come after brushing and flossing but can be before or after mouthwash.
- Use a comfortable amount of pressure and run the scraper along the entire length of your tongue, from back to front. It shouldn’t hurt, so if it does, use less pressure or inspect your tongue for possible canker sores or injury that may be causing the pain
- After each pass, rinse the scraper in warm water
- Once you’re done, clean the scraper and rinse your mouth out with water
Common Mistake: Brushing your tongue instead of using an actual scraper. If you use your toothbrush to scrape your tongue, it will still help remove some of the bacteria on the top of your tongue. But think about the difference between wiping a window clean with a towel or using a window scraper or squeegee.
The towel will more or less move water or dirt around. It will pick up some dirt but not enough. The scraper, since it is a stiff, hard surface will do a better job of removing bacteria.
Taking Preventative Measures Outside of Hygiene
Your dental hygiene regiment is paramount to a healthy mouth which will of course also mean, better breath. There are plenty of specifics and tips that many aren’t aware of for their hygiene, but even more looked over, are the other things you could be doing to prevent bad breath.
1. Some Additional Tips on Oral Care
- If you wear dentures, make sure to remove them each night and clean them thoroughly to remove any buildup from food or drink
- Replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings at least once per year, or every 6 months if possible
- Keep a log of the foods you eat and if you notice any changes in your breath
Small changes or adjustments and being aware of pitfalls can be a big help.
2. Best Foods to Beat Bad Breath
There are plenty of things that you shouldn’t be eating, which we will get into later. But let’s start with the good news and all the foods that will help you beat that oral odor.
Parsley and Basil
These two herbs work like antioxidants because of the polyphenols they contain. That basically just helps to break down the sulfur components that are in your mouth.
These are common herbs to go for after a dinner heavy on garlic, for that exact reason. It will help in the short term and has the science to back it up.
Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies like cucumbers, pears, apples, and celery are an amazing aide against bad breath. They help your mouth produce saliva which then helps clean out any odor-producing bacteria. But if you go for variations like the ones listed here, notice they are crisp and crunchy. That crunch also acts like a scrubber on your teeth.
So, while you’re eating you can actually also be removing food particles which means fewer bacteria to be broken down.
The benefits of green tea seem to be endless and they do not end with oral care. This ageless beverage contains catechin which is a natural antioxidant. Catechin will help fight the bacteria in your mouth that is the root cause of bad breath.
Actually, in Asia, some toothpastes even contain green tea extract to help better maintain oral health.
Melons and Citrus Fruit
Okay, we already chatted about other types of fruits. But specifically, the citrus and melons will help for additional reasons. Vitamin C in these fruits creates a hostile area for bacteria that causes halitosis. Vitamin C is great for us as an immunity booster, and terrible for bacteria.
Ginger has become known as a great digestive aid, or as something to soothe a sore throat. The digestive aspect is actually also a player in the bad breath game that we will get into more later. But it also directly helps to neutralize bad breath upon consumption.
If you combine pressed ginger with lemon juice in warm water it is a natural neutralizer.
Chewing sugarless gum loosens food and dead cells from your teeth which is exactly what the bacteria in your mouth need to create that bad breath.
Keep an eye out for gum sweetened with xylitol, which is a healthy sugar alternative and it naturally inhibits mouth bacteria.
While it’s not technically a food, you can find it in leafy green vegetables. It is a pigment that serves as a natural deodorizer. You can also find it as a liquid or supplement at your local health food store.
Keeping those leafy greens in your diet or adding the supplement is a perfect way to keep it natural and help fight those odors.
Cherries have the capability to remove the smell of methyl mercaptan, is released by bacteria in your mouth which then causes bad breath. Lettuce also shows to have the same properties and benefits.
We’ve been talking a lot about bad bacteria. But yogurt with probiotics contains the good type of bacteria. By adding good bacteria, you can lower the levels of sulfite compounds that are responsible for bad oral odor.
But be sure to avoid yogurts that have high sugar amounts, as it will end up being counterproductive.
The simplest, but one of the most important. It gets overlooked frequently in discussions around bad breath which is too bad because it is the easiest of them all. Drink more water!
By keeping your mouth moist and constantly rinsing particles from your teeth with additional water throughout the day you will keep bacteria at bay.
3. Top Foods That Cause Bad Breath
Luckily there are a lot of tasty options that will actually help in your battle against bad breath. But there are, of course, some additional items to think twice about before consuming again.
This also comes down to prioritizing. Many of these foods have their own health benefits in other aspects. But if you’re really committed to beating halitosis and stopping it in its tracks, you should consider eliminating or greatly cutting down on any of these foods.
At face value, of course, we all know that onions have a pungent smell that can last for a long time.
But behind the basic smell, it also contains sulfuric compounds that can be absorbed into your bloodstream and return, causing additional odor.
I’m pretty sure no one loves the smell of tuna or raw fish, other than my cat and his cat pals. But canned tuna is specifically an aggressor.
Any seafood will begin to smell worse as it oxidizes. And that process is exacerbated by storing it in a can.
I don’t think anyone is surprised to see this on the list. But you may be surprised to know some of the facts behind why it is. Garlic will not only leave a sulfuric mark on your tongue, but also in your bloodstream, similar to onions.
Once it is in your bloodstream, it can make its way into your lungs and then come out through breath.
Garlic has tons of powerful health aspects to it though. So, if you enjoy it, just be wary of how much you use and plan to be overly diligent in your dental care after consumption.
Naturally occurring bacteria from your tongue feeds on amino acids in milk and cheese which results in a bad mouth odor. The only exception to this would be with the yogurt we mentioned earlier which is high in probiotics and low in sugar.
Also, keep an eye out for heavier yogurts with whole milk or 2% milk so you can avoid the blowback from the amino acids.
The chemical compound isothiocyanate is what allows this root vegetable to give cocktail sauces and dressings a very different flavor that people love. But it also is what causes the unfavorable bad breath afterward.
Lastly, while it’s not a food, I want to bring up tobacco. Whether it is chewing or smoking, tobacco is a main offender in bad breath. Aside from causing cancer and other illnesses that can be life-threatening, it is terrible for your oral health.
Tobacco causes damage to your gums, which can lead to gum disease. Once you have gum disease the fight against bad breath becomes much harder. People assume chewing tobacco must be the one to cause gum issues. That is true. But don’t be fooled by smoking being any better for your gums. It is still causing damage that will leave a bad odor and bad oral health.
It will also be responsible for stained teeth and bad breath even if you don’t contract gum disease from it. So, if you are looking for overall health, plus oral health and fresher breath, it’s time to kick the tobacco habit.
What Else Can Cause Bad Breath?
We all immediately assume that bad breath must mean something is wrong with our teeth or gums.
We reach for the mouthwash, or we do an extra brushing each day. This is 100% valid and it’s important to never underestimate your dental health.
But we also should look at other causes as well. Just like most health issues, it may not be as cut and dry as we’d like. The human body is a beautiful maze of complexities that are all tied together one way or another.
1. Digestive Issues
It all goes back to your gut. Gut health is a huge factor for so many different ailments and issues that we encounter on a daily basis. It can cause the smallest of annoying issues, all the way up to life-threatening ones, if not properly dealt with.
Bowel Obstruction: When dealing with any type of intestinal obstruction you should take it seriously and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or do not go away.
It basically means there has been a blockage formed in your large or small intestine. This can cause bad breath because undigested food is not moving down your intestinal tract.
Everything you eat while you are experiencing an obstruction will remain there and ferment which can cause bad breath. Aside from the unpleasant odor this will cause, here are some warning signs so you can better understand if this is your issue:
- Severe bloating
- Abdominal pain
- Severe cramps
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal swelling
- Inability to pass gas or stool
If you experience any of these for a prolonged period of time, it is best to seek medical help, knowing that while it may be causing some unwanted foul breath, it can also be doing other harm to your digestive system and overall health.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be another digestive issue that causes bad breath. If you have GERD, your stomach acid will flow backward into the esophagus, which can cause pain and burning sensations. It will also cause bad breath when those acids resurface.
When we covered different foods that will help bad breath, some of those will directly attack it from this standpoint as well. Ginger, along with drinking a lot of water can greatly help soothe and eliminate symptoms of GERD.
The ginger helps reduce the likelihood of that stomach acid coming back up into the esophagus. Also, drinking more water keeps those acids at bay and helps to push them back down where they belong.
But other foods we mentioned, such as citrus fruits, will make this condition worse. So, it is always important to understand where the root of the problem is before you are able to treat it.
Here are some typical warning signs that GERD is your issue.
- Regurgitation of sour liquid or food
- Heartburn in your chest after eating, which could be worse at night
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent cough
- Insomnia or inability to stay asleep
- Reflux that occurs one to two times per week
- Asthma (whether it be new or worse than before)
- A feeling of a lump in your throat
If you feel like this matches your symptoms, it could be the core of your bad breath problems. Speak with your doctor about the best ways to keep GERD contained. This is important for your health, but will also help with that foul breath you’d like to be rid of.
Home Remedies That You May Already Have in Your Cupboard
I like to do my research on products that I could purchase, specifically designed for any health concerns I have, while also seeing if there are any home remedies I could be using as well.
Some people are very much on one side of that aisle or the other when it comes to store-bought medicinal items vs home remedies that are more natural. But I like to understand both, and really know all of my options.
At the end of the day, it may end up being a trial and error session for you to see what works best. Or what combination of things works best. So, here are some top solutions you can look at using if you prefer to stay away from store-bought fixes.
- Cinnamon Oil
- Tea Tree Oil Rinse
- Fennel Seeds
In addition to the foods we mentioned earlier, these are all additional options that should help you beat bad breath. Any mints that you can get in an essential oil form, will be a huge help and keep it natural for you.
Solving this problem can be summed up like this–know the cause, research your options, and implement changes.
Understanding the cause of your bad breath has to be the first step before looking at any of these solutions. Once you know exactly what is causing it, you can begin deciding the best path for you to overcome bad breath
Some of the options discussed here are short-term fixes, while others can help sustain fresh breath for the long-term. All of them will be helpful in their own way. You will have to decide the best options for your situation and make sure to stick to it.
Think of it the same way someone approaches a diet. You can’t have pizza every night and expect different results on the scale. But if you want to indulge and splurge after a great week of clean eating and exercise, a slice or two to tamper that craving is okay.
Stay strict in your new routines for dental health and steer clear of the things that will work against you. If you want to have a little garlic; have a little garlic. But brush immediately after and don’t go overboard.
All of these tools will help you be on your way to increased confidence and health through better breath.