Words by Kathy Iandoli

Yes, we know it’s a sore subject, but let’s address it. You have bad breath. Maybe you were already aware or someone politely told you, but the realization isn’t easy nonetheless. Halitosis, as it’s scientifically termed, is a foul odor that’s released when you exhale. But simply put, it’s bad breath. And there are dimensions to that bad breath that a mint can’t fix. We’re here to help. Check out our tips for bad breath and how to combat it once and for all.

Do You Have Bad Breath And You Don’t Know It?

Okay, so maybe you don’t know you have bad breath. There are several ways to find out:

  • Scratch a toothpick along your back teeth and smell the toothpick.
  • Lick the inside of your wrist, count to ten and smell your wrist.
  • Cup your hands, breath out and then smell.
  • Breath into a cup and smell the air.
  • Take a cotton swap, scrape the back of your tongue and smell the swab.

Sure, these may seem like awkward tests, but knowing is knowing. Also, avoid taking a breathe test right after you’ve brushed your teeth, used mouthwash or had a mint as these will mess up an accurate reading.

Go To The Dentist

Many causes of halitosis come from dental issues. Maybe you’re hiding a cavity, practicing poor oral hygiene, have gingivitis, plaque buildup, a tooth abscess or periodontal disease. Maybe you have shifting teeth and the spaces are acting as a food catch, leaving plaque and remaining food along your teeth and gums. This may also be true if you have dentures. A dental visit and full oral exam can reveal if there are any issues present. From there, it may be a quick fix to fresh breath.

Put Down The Cigarette

If your smoking addiction is getting in the way of better breath, you may want to consider kicking that habit once and for all. While dry mouth alone is also a cause of bad breath, it’s enhanced and made worse every time you puff on a cigarette. If you’ve ever wanted to quit, now might be an excellent time.

Keep Your Sinuses In Check

Ear, Nose, and Throat issues are also a big cause for bad breath, as the interconnectivity of your nasal cavities to everything else can lead to a drip of mucous, leaving an unpleasant odor. You may also have an equally unpleasant odor coming from your nose. That escapes from your mouth, you know. If it’s a sinus infection, visit your doctor, but if it’s chronic sinusitis be sure to irrigate your sinuses with salt water frequently, as well as keeping your nose clean through blowing it.

Check Your Health

Many underlying diseases carry a symptom of bad breath. This can be anything from Diabetes to Gastroenteritis. Maybe you’re already aware of a health condition that will warrant bad breath, but if not, perhaps a visit to your doctor is in order.

Slow Down Fasting

If you’re on a continuous diet—which often includes keeping your stomach light on food—it’s a trap house for bad breath. Odors can arise from an empty stomach, making bad breath the result. If you’re dropping pounds, consider smaller meals in greater quantity to ensure no surprise odors emerge.

Water It Down

Keep hydrated, as this prevents dry mouth, which can in turn prevent halitosis. Cold water and a slight swish around can make all the difference when it comes to breath. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Carry a bottle for the ultimate reminder.

Watch What You Eat

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Sometimes we forget. If you’re eating raw onions or cooking with heavy garlic, that’s an odor that can sit on your breath for a while. Yes, tuna fish and coffee too. Be mindful of those foods when you eat them or drink them, and have some tools ready to clean up that bad breath.

Yes, The Tools

High-powered mints like Altoids are always a quick fix for bad breath. Gum too. But if you’re not into too much sugar or artificial sweeteners and have dental work, then most of those are out. Carry a portable toothbrush with a travel size of toothpaste and mouthwash and brush/swish after every meal. Watch how fast your breath freshens.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night is not enough. When you can, after meals is a good idea, but there’s more. Floss regularly, and also invest in a tongue scraper, which scrapes the bacteria off your tongue. That bacteria is where most of your oral-related bad breath can live. Don’t forget the mouthwash, too!

Toss The Toothbrush Regularly

Since your toothbrush should be taking a beating with all this brushing, replace it every 2-3 months. Soft bristles are recommended by dentists, as they do the least damage to gums. However, frequent brushings lead to collections of bacteria on the brush, which can not only get you sick but also perpetuate that bad breath. Change your toothbrush regularly.

Man picks up quip brush

Consider Oral Options

There are many orally taken remedies for bad breath. These include chewable chlorophyll pills flavored with spearmint, dental probiotics that help your oral health, as well as yerba pills that can combat bad breath and body odor.

Drop, Strip, And Spray

Breath drops, breath strips, and breath sprays are always a quick fix for bad breath too. The more natural, the better, as you may use them several times throughout the day and don’t want to add any unnecessary chemicals to your body. If you sense your breath is getting a little foul, reach for any one of these.

Chew On Nature

Cloves, parsley, fennel seeds, anise seeds, cardamom seeds, basil, mint, cilantro. All of these can be chewed on to fight bad breath. With the seeds, the oils are activated as you chew; with the plants, the chlorophyll is activated as you chew. Any of those can be a win in the bad breath wars.