Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common health concern often discussed with dentists. The discomfort to others from a person's not-so-pleasant breath can lead to avoidance, a lack of intimacy, and in some cases even isolation.
What’s the most common cause of bad breath? Bacteria!
Bacteria that reside on the teeth, gums and tongue break down leftover food and release a chemical that results in an unwelcome smell. The most common tool used to get rid of bad breath (when your toothbrush and toothpaste aren't nearby) is popping a mint or chewing some gum. Unfortunately though, mints and gum tend to mask the unwanted smell yet fail to actually address the root cause: the bacteria in your mouth.
So what works for not-so-pleasant breath?
Drinking lots of water will help wash away bad bacteria and is always a good place to start. Here are other simple tips that can help combat the odour-causing bacteria in your mouth!
Green tea is full of powerful antioxidants that stop the growth of bacteria in the mouth. Not only has green tea been found to prevent heart disease and cancer, but studies have also shown that it can help beat bad breath! One study found that antioxidants in green tea (called polyphenols), destroy many compounds in the mouth that can lead to bad breath, tooth decay and even mouth cancer.
Saliva "washes" the mouth at regular intervals, keeping bacterial populations in the mouth at bay. Decreased saliva production could be caused by dehydration, diabetes, and certain medications. Fibre-rich foods like celery, carrots and apples increase saliva production in the mouth which can help wash away plaque build-up that leads to bad breath.
A diet low in vitamin C can be contributing to bad breath since vitamin C helps hinder the anaerobic bacteria that accumulates in the mouth. Be sure to consume vitamin C rich citrus fruits like oranges, tomatoes, and grapefruits, or grab some berries and melons. Not only do these foods help prevent the growth of bacteria, they also help prevent gum disease and gingivitis! It should be noted that acidic foods like the ones mentioned here can contribute to acid erosion of your teeth. Therefore, it's always best to wash down acidic snacks like apples and oranges with plenty of water, and to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
Unlike mint, which only masks bad breath, cinnamon has been shown to actually reduce the amount of odour-causing bacteria in saliva by 50%! Don’t hesitate to chew on a piece of a cinnamon stick or gargle with warm cinnamon water to sweeten things up!