Whether it is from the onions on your sandwich or that extra cup of coffee, you probably have dealt with the uncomfortable problem of having bad breath at one time or the other.
Many of us grab a mint or chew a piece of gum for a quick fix. Some of us stash a bottle of mouthwash in our desk drawer or in a compartment in the car to freshen our mouths when we are on the go.
However, what do you do when you have an ongoing breath problem? Most commercial breath freshening products contain harsh, unnatural ingredients, and they can simply mask an underlying problem that is causing the bad breath in the first place.
The good news is that there are many natural ways to fight bad breath. In addition, most are easy and inexpensive. Here are nine natural ideas to try to help eliminate bad breath.
1. Take care of your teeth and mouth. The first step to fighting bad breath is to take a good look at your oral hygiene. It is important to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Additionally, if you usually brush your teeth only first thing in the morning and last thing at night, consider brushing your teeth more frequently.
Try brushing after every meal — which may involve having a toothbrush and toothpaste with you at work or in your car — and floss your teeth twice a day.
Speaking of that toothbrush – when was the last time you got a new one? Replacing your toothbrush every two to three months can help keep your breath fresh.
Your teeth are not the only culprits when it comes to bad breath. Your tongue can harbor odor-causing dead cells, fungi and bacteria. Try scraping your tongue each morning with a spoon and then rinsing with water afterwards to decrease or eliminate the odor.
Simply place the spoon on the back of your tongue and then drag it slowly forward. Rinse well and then repeat several times. Include the sides of your tongue in this cleaning process.
2. Drink plenty of water. Did you realize that a dry mouth could play a role in bad breath? When you do not wash bacteria away with water, they can thrive on the food particles in your mouth. These germs then can release foul-smelling byproducts that cause bad breath.
Your body’s own natural saliva can do the trick, but if you are dehydrated, you may not be producing enough salvia to eliminate the bacteria. Aim to drink more water during the day, and try swishing it around your mouth to help eliminate mouth odor.
3. Consume enough zinc. A deficiency in the mineral zinc can be a contributing factor to bad breath. As an antimicrobial, zinc helps neutralize and eliminate harmful germs in the mouth. Try supplementing your diet with food rich in zinc, including pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, sesame seeds and chickpeas.
4. Supplement with herbs and spices. Many items from your kitchen spice shelf or your herb garden can aid in eliminating bad breath when you chew them. Here are a few examples:
- Anise seeds
5. Enjoy some citrus fruit. Eating an orange can be a simple and healthy way to fight bad breath. By stimulating your salivary glands, the citric acid also creates an acidic environment in which bacteria cannot thrive.
Another option is to nibble on a clean, small piece of lemon, lime or orange rind.
6. Create a natural mouth rinse. Many commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol, but you can easily create your own natural mouth rinse. Try gargling with a simple salt-water solution to help rid your mouth, throat and tonsils from bacteria.
Another option is to mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda to cleanse and to freshen your mouth. Squeeze in some lemon or lime juice, if you like, for flavor and for the added benefits of Vitamin C.
7. Consider probiotic foods. An overloaded digestive tract can contribute to breath problems. Basically, stomach problems can create a build-up of excess of gas that then exits your body through your mouth.
Supplementing your diet with probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kombucha tea and fermented sauerkraut helps get your digestive system back in balance. Another idea is to mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with water and drink it prior to eating a meal to aid your digestive process.
8. Eat more raw foods. Many raw foods, such as apples, celery and carrots, can act as natural toothbrushes. Not only do they scrub your teeth as you chew, but they also can kill odor-causing bacteria. Some raw foods also have a high-water content that helps you produce more saliva.
9. Cleanse your body of toxins. Bad breath can be a sign that your body has a high level of toxins. Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes can contribute to the problem of bad breath, for example.
A natural way to cleanse your body is by drinking stinging nettle tea. Stinging nettle is a powerful herb that can help eliminate toxins, boost adrenal function, stimulate the lymphatic system and increase the excretion of uric acid through the kidneys – all of which can help fight bad breath.
If you are taking any medications, talk with your doctor to see if your prescription could be causing dry mouth or otherwise could be contributing to a breath problem. Over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants or diet pills also could be part of the problem.
Finally, bad breath could be a symptom of an underlying health issue, including anything from gum disease, to lactose intolerance, to diabetes. If you have tried the above natural remedies and still are experiencing bad breath, it may be time to see your doctor for a physical.
How do you fight bad breath? Share your thoughts in the section below: