Food doesn’t have to be your enemy when it comes to bad breath.
Whether you’re concerned about waking up with morning breath, or are scared of bad breath that gets worse throughout the day, unpleasant odor can be an annoying side effect to a number of external and internal factors, especially food. While a stick of gum is always an immediate cure for bad breath, the results are only short-term and they don’t work to solve the problem.
But there are choices that you can make about the kind of food you eat that can help fight bad breath. While it’s obvious that eating onions and garlic will contribute to bad breath because of their sulfenic acid content, lesser-known culprits are things found in most diets such as starch, refined foods, and candies, because they increase plaque formation, says Dr. Julietta Jay Carlos, D.M.D., a dentist based out of San Francisco.
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Thankfully, there are lots of options to fight the effects of bad breath besides limiting what you eat, helping those who might find it nearly impossible to give up starches. While it’s not ideal, one of the best things you can do for your breath is brush your teeth after every meal, and to make sure that you brush your tongue, as well. When foods are trapped in the pockets surrounding your teeth, halitosis (the medical term for bad breath) can develop as bacteria grows, which then can lead to gum disease, says Dr. Joseph Grenn, D.M.D., an oral surgeon from San Francisco. The sour smell comes from carbohydrates that cling to the tongue and teeth, which then cause bacteria to eat away at the organic matter. Flossing regularly will get rid of this problem, as will using interproximal brushes and a toothbrush after eating meals and even snacks.
Consuming dehydrating drinks like coffee and alcohol are also major contributors to bad breath because they reduce the flow of saliva, which encourages bacterial growth in your mouth. It doesn’t help that coffee, tea, and red wine also stain the teeth, either.
If you’re not at a point in your life where you can break out a toothbrush after every meal, thankfully there are some foods that act as natural mouth cleaners. Some foods literally clean your mouth, such as crisp fruits and vegetables like apples and celery, which physically scrape debris from your teeth to help prevent buildup. Other foods work at a deeper level, helping to neutralize your stomach and keep the nasty odors at bay — these acid-calming foods include ginger, fennel, and probiotic yogurts.
If your body is healthy on the inside, and if your mouth is hygienic, bad breath is less likely to occur. Incorporating nutritious foods into your diet, like green juice in the morning, will help eliminate bacteria in your mouth as well as flush out the toxins from your body. In rare cases, bad breath can be attributed to stomach disorders, so it’s best to talk to your doctor if the problem persists after making some of these diet changes.
If you’re ready to start eating away bad breath, we’ve compiled a list of the best foods that will help you fight away halitosis. These nutritious foods can be easily incorporated into your diet, and they’ll keep your breath fresh by hydrating your body, calming your stomach, and neutralizing offensive odors. While you may have thought that food was your worst enemy in the breath department, it’s about to become your best secret weapon.
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1. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are a common Indian remedy for bad breath because they help neutralize offensive odors and aid digestion. Eating the seeds also increases saliva that washes away bacteria from your mouth. Fennel oils have antibacterial properties as well, fighting germs that cause bad breath. The seeds can be picked up at health food stores.
2. Green Tea
Green tea is high in polyphenols, antioxidants that fight the growth of bacteria and also help reduce sulfur compounds. Green teas are also good for overall periodontal health, says Dr. Carlos. A downside, though, is that tea can stain teeth. To reap the benefits of this antioxidant-rich tea without these side effects, green tea extracts can be taken as a supplement, which have been proven to fight oral bacteria.
Apples are a great food to eat to keep your oral hygiene in check, mostly because of their natural detergent properties, says Dr. Grenn. When you bite into an apple, you’re pushing plaque away from your teeth, thus eliminating the food matter that could cause bacteria in your gums and teeth.
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4. Leafy Green Vegetables
As a general rule of thumb, if a food is good for your overall health, it will be good for your dental health, as well. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and kale are great for your health, and good for oral hygiene. Green vegetables keep your internal pH levels balanced and alkaline levels low, which in turn help prevent dry mouth, another cause of bad breath.
Green leafy vegetables also contain a high amount of chlorophyll that acts as a natural deodorizer. You can also take chlorophyll in capsules as a stronger internal deodorant.
5. Probiotic Yogurt
Probiotic yogurt is great for your digestive health, and therefore is an effective bad-breath neutralizer. Consuming yogurt with live active cultures lowers the amount of odor-causing sulfite compounds. It’s also a good idea to add probiotic yogurts into your diet because they’re a potent source of vitamin D, which fights mouth bacteria. Drinking kefir delivers the same odor-banishing benefits.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.