If you’re experiencing bad breath, don’t worry as you’re not alone. Bad breath (also known as halitosis) is a common condition affecting 1 in 4 of us1. Luckily, you can easily remedy your bad breath with diet, strict oral hygiene and various natural remedies.
Keep your mouth clean and hydrated
After eating, traces of food can get trapped in your mouth which attract bacteria and plaque, which can cause unpleasant smells.
To keep your mouth clean, ensure you are brushing at least twice a day with a toothbrush which is no more than three months old, flossing between teeth after every meal, and using a tongue scraper and mouthwash.
A dry mouth can lead to bad breath because saliva washes away the bad bacteria in your mouth. This is also why we often wake up with ‘morning breath’, because your mouth slows down its production of saliva overnight leaving bacteria to breed. Drink plenty of water on a regular basis to remedy this.
Adding a drop of peppermint oil to your water can help you to drink more water throughout the day as well as promote fresher breath. Peppermint oil is antimicrobial2 which helps rid your mouth of bad bacteria.
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How your diet can help
If your oral hygiene is good but you still experience bad breath, the answer might lie in what you are eating.
Poor diet and lifestyle habits can contribute to unpleasant breath. Strong foods such as garlic, onions, fish, too many dairy products, as well as beverages such as alcohol and coffee are major culprits.
Foods that are high in fat, as well as sugary foods and refined (white) carbs also contribute towards the breeding of bad bacteria in the mouth. Gargling with salt water could help you, as it removes leftover food particles and bad bacteria.
Eating fruits which are high in vitamin C can help prevent bad breath, as they reduce levels of bacteria in the mouth.
Including apples in your diet is great for reducing plaque, as apples clean the surface of the teeth as you bite into them.
Fennel seeds can help combat bad breath alongside being a good digestive remedy. Incorporate them into curries and salads, or chew them after meals. Fennel tea is great option if you do not like the seeds.
Parsley is a potent natural deodoriser, so garnishing your meals with parsley may help if you experience bad breath. Parsley is also delicious added to smoothies and juices. Alternately you could chew on a small amount after meals.
Chewing small amounts of ginger root, or sipping a ginger tea, can help deodorise your mouth and wash away bad bacteria.
The problem could also lie past the mouth and down in your gut. Poor or sluggish digestion contributes to bad breath. Ensure you are eating plenty of fibre, which keeps the gut healthy by encouraging the fast elimination of toxins.
How probiotics can help
Foods containing friendly bacteria are wonderful for balancing our digestive tract and limiting the overgrowth of bad bacteria in our gut that can lead to illness. These friendly bacteria are also effective in reducing the quantities of smelly bad bacteria in our mouths. These foods include fermented products such as sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and probiotic yoghurts. If you find these foods hard to incorporate into your daily diet, a probiotic supplement can be useful.
Modern research has examined the link between oral probiotics and the improvement of bad breath. A study at the University of Copenhagen in 2012 showed that probiotic chewing gums may have a positive impact on bad breath if used over a two-week period 3. Oral probiotics can be found in tablet or gum form.
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It is important to consult with your GP if you think the cause of your bad breath could be an underlying medical condition.
1. [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bad-breath/.
2. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7478759.