18 Home Remedies for Bad Breath


©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Rinsing with water after eating can keep bad breath at bay.

The problem of halitosis, or bad breath, has plagued humankind for centuries. To conquer bad breath, the ancient Greeks reputedly used home remedies like rinsing with white wine, anise seed, and myrrh, while the Italians mixed up a mouthwash of sage, cinnamon, juniper seeds, root of cypress, and rosemary leaves, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

Today, of course, Americans still worry that their breath smells bad (and swish capful after capful of mouthwashes that often contain little more than alcohol and flavoring to fix it). Indeed, New York Times health columnist Jane E. Brody has written that she receives more questions about bad breath than about any other common medical problem. Fortunately, this article contains all the information you need to know about bad breath, from where it starts to home remedies that will help keep your mouth smelling fresh. Let's begin with a closer look at the problem.

Maybe one explanation for this preoccupation with oral odor is the simple fact that you can't really tell whether you've got bad breath. This is a time when you have to depend on the honesty and kindness of friends to let you know if your breath smells bad. If you're on your way to that important meeting and you simply must know if your breath will precede you through the door, try breathing into a handkerchief or running floss between your teeth and taking a sniff.

Fixing bad breath depends on what's causing it. In 80 to 90 percent of cases, it's due to something in the mouth. Most often, bad breath is the result of nothing more serious than a dirty mouth. Plaque, the nearly invisible film of bacteria that's constantly forming in your mouth, is often responsible. Another possible source of stink can be decaying food that's trapped between teeth.

Persistent bad breath may be due to a treatable dental problem, such as an undiagnosed cavity or periodontal (gum) disease. Sometimes a broken filling can trap food particles. If you visit the dentist and no such problem is found, however, you may want to investigate further and talk to your physician about other possible causes. Occasionally, ongoing bad breath is due to something in the respiratory tract (such as a sinus or lung infection) or gastrointestinal tract or to a systemic (body-wide) condition. Diabetes, for example, can give the breath an unpleasant chemical smell.

Of course, what you eat can contribute to bad breath, too. The strong odors of foods like garlic, onions, and alcohol are carried through the bloodstream and exhaled by the lungs. Another big loser when it comes to turning your breath sour, and harming your health, is tobacco.

No matter how hard you try to clean your teeth and watch your diet, we all have an epidsode of bad breath occasionally. Move on to the next section for home remedies to keep your breath at its best.

For information on other unpleasant or embarrassing conditions, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Home Remedy Treatments for Bad Breath

Figuring out the cause of bad breath is the first step, obviously, in doing something about it, but here are some home remedies to keep your breath as fresh as possible.

Keep your mouth clean. Brush thoroughly at least twice a day, and floss daily. Food and bacteria trapped between teeth and at the gum line can be removed only with floss; if it's left to linger, it's not going to smell nice. Periodontal disease can result in chronically bad breath.

Clean your tongue, too.

Bacteria left on your tongue can contribute to less-than-fresh breath, so be sure to brush your tongue after you've polished your pearly whites.

Ditch your dentures. If you wear dentures, never wear them to sleep. Give them a thorough cleaning and leave them out until morning.

Wet your whistle. A dry mouth can equal smelly breath. Saliva helps clean your mouth; it has a natural antibacterial action and it washes away food particles. (Reduced saliva flow at night explains why your breath smells sour when you wake up in the morning.) Try sucking on sugarless mints to stimulate saliva production.

Don't stress out. Stress can dry out your mouth, causing bad breath.

Avoid potent foods. Garlic and onions, among other foods, contain sulfur compounds that move on to the lungs after they

are absorbed in the bloodstream. Certain fish, such as anchovies, and seaweed are high in "fishy" amine odors. Unfortunately, during the move the chemicals that make these foods so tasty and pungent stick around. And they don't smell so great as you whisper sweet nothings into your sweetheart's ear.

 

For information on other unpleasant or embarrassing conditions, try the following links:

  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
  • To learn how to treat burping, see Home Remedies for Burping.  
  • Home Remedies for Body Odor includes tried-and-true measures for staying odor-free. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.  
  • If you suffer from heart burn, read the tips presented in Home Remedies for Heartburn.

Natural Home Remedies for Bad Breath

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Try sugarless gum or candy to keep your mouth moist and fresh.

Treating bad breath can be as simple as raiding your kitchen for odor-eliminating items. Read on to learn more.

Home Remedies From the Cupboard

Baking soda. Baking soda is a great way to clean your teeth and get fresh breath. For fresher breath, sprinkle some baking soda into your palm, dip a damp toothbrush into the baking soda, and brush.

Water. Water is essential for fresher breath. Swish water around your mouth for at least 20 seconds to loosen food particles and clean your mouth. Water may even work as well as mouthwash in removing trapped food particles and keeping your breath fresh.

Fresh vegetables. Fresh vegetables, such as carrots and celery, fight plaque and keep your breath smelling nice.

Cheese. Cheese also fights plaque and mouth odor. Opt for a bit of low-fat cheese for a snack.

Aromatic spices. Chewing on the seeds of aromatic spices such as clove, cardamom, or fennel after meals is a common practice in South Asia and the Middle East. The seeds of these spices contain antimicrobial properties that can help halt bad breath.

Bad breath may be a problem as old as time. But it doesn't have to ruin your time, as long as you follow some home remedies before or after your night on the town.

For information on other unpleasant or embarrassing conditions, try the following links:

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Reader's Digest, Prevention, Men's Health, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. The author of four books, Gower is also a contributing editor for Health magazine.

Alice Lesch Kelly is a health writer based in Boston. Her work has been published in magazines such as Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Woman's Day, Reader's Digest, Eating Well, and Health. She is the co-author of three books on women's health.

Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.

Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.

ABOUT THE CONSULTANTS:

Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.