Nothing can dampen a great first impression or kill the mood faster than bad breath. No matter how prepared you are to combat that less-than-fresh breath, it has a way of popping up at the least convenient times. Of course, the first and most important step in combating bad breath, or halitosis, is maintaining a healthy mouth, so brushing, flossing, and seeing a dentist regularly are excellent practices to promote good oral hygiene. But how can you battle halitosis during the day in between brushing? Below are ten ways to freshen your breath naturally that you can easily adopt into your daily routine, keeping your mouth, and your breath, fresh and clean.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Making sure to drink enough water throughout the day has dozens of health benefits, but one you might not know is that staying properly hydrated can also help keep your breath fresh. Dry mouth, whether caused by medication or just being dehydrated, is one of the leading causes of bad breath, because it creates an environment more prone to bacteria. Drinking water throughout the day will help rinse away bacteria before they can establish themselves in your mouth, leading to halitosis.
2. Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar
While you’re making sure to properly hydrate, throw one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a tall glass of water and rinse your mouth with the mixture for about five minutes, twice a day. The antibacterial properties in the vinegar will help to kill a significant portion of the order-causing bacteria in your mouth that can contribute to bad breath.
3. Eat More Fresh Mint and Parsley
Chewing a sprig of mint or parsley is an ancient custom that still works great today. Certain chemical elements in both plants naturally fight the germs in your mouth that can contribute to halitosis. Try keeping a small mint plant in your kitchen or at work, or, if you’d rather not deal with living plants, include a small bag of mint and parsley sprigs in your lunch.
4. Use Probiotics
Probiotics are all the rage these days, and with good reason. Probiotics help your body produce the enzymes it needs to break down your food properly, and this in turn benefits gut health. When food is digested properly, you’ll have less chance of it fermenting in your stomach, which can lead to terrible breath. Try a supplement, or look for a probiotic-infused herbal tea.
5. Try Chewing Cloves
Chewing on cloves may sound like a relatively unpleasant experience, but the trick is to simply dent the clove with your teeth and then move it around your mouth with your tongue in order to gain the benefits of clove’s naturally-occurring antibacterial properties. Still can’t stand the heat? Try a milder spice, like fennel or anise seeds, both of which also have antiseptic properties. Cloves, fennel, and anise seed also have strong and pleasant aromas, which could help mask that after-lunch garlic breath.
6. Rinse with Baking Soda
Baking Soda can help discourage the growth of plaque along your gum line, which in turn can lead to gum disease. Maintaining proper gum health will insure the levels of infection-causing bacteria are kept in check, and less bacteria means fresher breath. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda into water and use as a mouthwash daily.
7. Grab a Slice of Lemon
Chewing on a slice of lemon or a bit of the lemon peel will cause your mouth to produce extra saliva, and this helps to wash away bacteria that would otherwise be hanging out on your tongue and mouth. The lemon oil in the rind also produced a clean, citrus smell, which can help cover up bad breath. Best of all, lemon wedges are readily available at any restaurant you might visit on your lunch break… so grab one on your way out the door and you’ll feel clean and fresh by the time you get back to your desk.
8. Choose Crunchier Fruits and Veggies
Adding more fruits and veggies to your diet is never a bad idea, but for fresher breath choosing crunchy, natural snacks like carrots, celery, or apples can help break up plaque bacteria in your mouth while stimulating your saliva glands to wash it all away. When you just don’t have time to brush in between meals, eating a small bag of celery and carrots can act like a natural toothbrush, leaving your mouth feeling sparkly clean while fighting those mid-afternoon hunger pangs.
9. Drink More Herbal Tea and Less Coffee
Coffee is naturally acidic, and that can throw off the pH balance in your mouth and lead to more bacteria. In addition, the sulfuric compounds and caffeine in that java contribute to dry mouth, which minimizes saliva output and allows those pesky bacteria to stew in there all afternoon. On your next coffee break, choose an herbal tea instead or, if you really need a pick-me-up, go for green tea, which contains enough antibacterial properties and health benefits to offset its caffeine content.
10. Try Scraping Your Tongue
Although tongue scraping might sound like a truly bizarre activity, it’s actually quite beneficial in keeping the bacterial levels down in your mouth and keeping your breath fresh. Tongue scraping is exactly what it sounds like: run a piece of floss or the carved edge of spoon over the surface of your tongue to literally scrape away that “fuzzy” layer of bacteria you might experience a couple hours after eating or drinking something acidic. Doing this will also help stimulate saliva, and that can help with dry mouth.
Of course, if you have a serious problem with bad breath it could be an indication of a larger health issue. Cutting out certain unhealthy habits will automatically improve your breath, as well, like quitting smoking or scaling back on those sugary beverages. Trying to eat a more balanced diet can also help with halitosis indirectly by improving nutritional intake, and a healthier digestive system always results in fresher breath. The reverse of this is also true: a healthier you begins with a healthier mouth, so be sure to practice great oral hygiene to keep your mouth clean and bacteria-free, and try some of these natural remedies to keep your breath sweet all day long.