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How to Get Rid of Bad Breath | The Old Farmer's Almanac

10 Ways to Get Rid of Bad Breath

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What causes bad breath, and how to fix it.

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Wondering how to get rid of bad breath? It’s not hard to fix this common issue if you know more about the different causes of smelly breath. Here are 10 ways to cure that bad breath.

Think of bad breath, also called halitosis, as a reminder to take better care of our mouth health. Most of us just need a better understanding of the causes as well as some extra tips on how to address the problem.

Consider these common scenarios first:

  • If you are younger than middle-aged, your tongue could be causing the problem.
  • If you are middle-aged and older, your gums could be giving off the unruly scent.
  • If you have sinus problems you may be prone to having bad breath.
  • If you have diabetes, your breath might smell like acetone.

Do You Have Bad Breath?

Wearing a face mask has opened up many people’s eyes to their own bad breath! With the mask on, just exhale in and out normally; you’ll soon be aware of your breath is stinky. You can do the same thing by cupping your hand over your mouth and nose. (But don’t “huff” into your hand as that’s a different way of breathing that comes from the back of your throat.) 

Another way to test your breath is to lick the back of your hand a few times, wait a minute, and then stiff the skin of your hand. Yes, it sounds strange, but it works.

Of course, it’s still hard to assess whether your own breath is stinky. Many people aren’t aware they have bad breath. If you are concerned, the very best way to find out is to ask a trusted family member to tell you the truth.

Main Causes of Bad Breath

  • Food particles left in between your teeth
  • Odor-producing mouth bacteria that builds up
  • A dry mouth caused by dehydration
  • Bacteria growing in the little crevices on your tongue
  • Certain types of food (especially garlic, onions, coffee, alcohol, tomatoes, citrus)
  • Bacteria that gets stuck in pockets of your gums
  • Bacteria hiding in the crevices of your tonsils

This article is for common bad breath and assumes that you do NOT have a serious disease such as diabetes, liver cirrhosis, cancers, kidney diseases, sinus or lung infections, tonsillitis, and others. If the below self-help remedies do not help, see a dentist or doctor to discuss your problems further.

10 Ways to Get Rid of Bad Breath

Is your mouth rude? Here’s how to get fresh with it:

  1. Brush teeth twice a day. This goes without saying. Even if you didn’t eat food since you last brushed, you must brush your teeth to eliminate odor-producing mouth bacteria. If you notice that your mouth stinking like rotten eggs, that’s the bacteria build-up; it releases sulfur compounds.
  2. Brush your tongue. Ever noticed a white or yellow tinge on the top of your tongue? Your whole mouth needs complete brushing, not just your teeth. With your toothbrush, brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth every day to get rid of plaque buildup which allows bacteria to thrive. You may want to even invest in a tongue scraper if brushing doesn’t remove that tinge.
  3. Flossing. This is the best way to remove often invisible food particles that are left in your mouth; otherwise, these food particles will collect bacteria. By cleaning your teeth and gums, your breath will be left smelling good. 
  4. Stay hydrated! When your mouth is too dry, it can’t create salvia which naturally breaks down the food particles so that we swallow them versus allowing bacteria to thrive and cause bad breath. Start filling up a water bottle in the morning and carrying it with you.
  5. Watch what you eat. It’s not just about garlic, onions, cheeses, and other “stinky” foods. Examine your diet. Food and drinks that cause indigestion or acid reflux can cause bad breath, including alcohol, coffee, tomatoes, and orange juice. Eating carbohydrates and proteins in the same meal can cause bad breath because carbohydrates digest quickly and proteins tend to digest slowly leaving a rotten smell.
  6. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products, of course.
  7. Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Unfortunately, mouthwashes can be a short-term fix because they dry your mouth out. A mouth rinse can be helpful but check the ingredient list and make sure it doesn’t list alcohol. Even better, look for a mouthwash that lists antibacterial ingredients such as CPC (cetylpyridinium chloride).
  8. If your gums are bleeding, see a dentist. Same goes if you see pockets around your gums or loose teeth. You may have gum disease which is more serious than simply having bad breath.
  9. If you get tonsil stones, eliminate them. If you’ve ever noticed little white bumps on your tonsils, this happens when bacteria mixes with food and hardens. Gently press on the tonsil with a cotton swab to remove the small stones. Gargle with salt water immediately. See a dentist if the stones are large or keep coming back. Invest in a water pik to flush out your mouth; this is a good idea even if you don’t get tonsil stones in order to remove bacteria more effectively.
  10. Seeds freshen breath. Fennel, dill, and anise will help leave breath fresh. Peppermint leaves will always sweeten breath as well.

Some people believe: To get rid of garlic breath, chew on a coffee bean!

So did you learn anything? Perhaps you’ll improve hydration? Invest in a tongue scraper or water pik? 

If you follow this advice, you should be odor-free. Add your own tips below!

Note: Again, if you have bad breath all the time, despite all efforts, you should speak to a dentist to ensure there aren’t unusual other medical conditions.

2023 Almanac Club