Fight bad breath for good: best at-home solutions.

Medically Reviewed by a
Licensed DDS

Table of Contents

  1. Bad Breath Solutions
  2. Lifestyle Changes
  3. Seek Medical Expertise
  4. References

Bad breath hits everyone once in a while. Most people don’t have the freshest breath when they first wake up in the morning. And eating certain things, like large amounts of garlic, often results in bad breath.

This type of bad breath is halitosis, which is the clinical term for bad breath. It is temporary and usually solved with good oral hygiene.

For some people, halitosis is a long-term problem. If you experience chronic bad breath, it usually means you need to see a dentist to determine the underlying cause. Chronic bad breath may indicate that you have a lot of bacteria on your teeth, gum disease, or dry mouth.

Sometimes, halitosis is genetic. If people in your family have a history of bad breath, you are at higher risk of developing bad breath yourself. You may also have a gastrointestinal problem or a lung infection, which will clear up with medical treatment.

Depending on the causes of your bad breath, you may be able to manage it at home, even as you pursue other medical treatments. For most people, at-home solutions to bad breath will be enough to address the issue.

Bad breath solutions you can do at home.

You may not notice if you have bad breath, but there are some common signs you might notice that indicate halitosis. These include:

  • An unpleasant or sour change in taste.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Feeling like your tongue is coated with something.

One of the best ways to alleviate bad breath is to drink enough water, especially if you have dry mouth. Other remedies can help, including:

Citrus Fruits
Refined sugar in candy or chocolates can increase the bacterial growth in your mouth. Instead of reaching for refined sugars, replace a sugary snack with a piece of fruit. Oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits have natural antibacterial properties, so you can eat them to manage halitosis.
Green Tea
This caffeinated tea is rich in antioxidants, so it can also support your immune system. A 2013 study on human gum tissue found that Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), one of the most abundant antioxidants in green tea, has some antimicrobial properties. This chemical specifically targets one of the bacteria responsible for gingivitis, a gum disease whose main symptom is halitosis. Overall, green tea has been shown to be effective in reducing bad breath.
Herbal Teas

Tea made from certain herbs and spices can reduce some bacteria and their sulfur emissions. This can help to ease bad breath, especially if you drink herbal tea after a meal.

These specific spices and herbs include the following:

  • Fennel seeds
  • Star anise
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Grated ginger
  • Mint like spearmint or peppermint
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
Cinnamon Oil Rinse

Another type of bacteria that causes halitosis, Solobacterium moorei (S. moorei), can be combated with cinnamon. Essential oils that contain cinnamon, rather than a different flavor like mint, can combat the sulfur emissions created by these bacteria.

A 2017 study showed that this oil can reduce the growth of bacteria, rather than just removing the smell they create. Adding cinnamon oil to other hygiene products, like a drop or two to mouthwash, can bolster an oral hygiene routine.

Tea Tree Oil Rinse

Tea tree oil is an increasingly popular essential oil that has antimicrobial properties. Some bacteria that cause bad breath secrete volatile sulfur compounds (VSC), which are responsible for bad breath. Tea tree oil targets these secretions and breaks them down.

To safely use tea tree oil, dilute one drop of the essential oil with a few drops of vegetable oil. Add to warm water, and swish the mixture in your mouth for 30 seconds. Do not swallow the solution, as tea tree oil shouldn’t be consumed by humans.

Probiotic Yogurt
As more people become concerned about their digestive health, probiotic yogurt is becoming a very popular food. This yogurt has live bacterial cultures to aid digestion. It is also good for the bacterial balance in your mouth, which can ease underlying causes of halitosis like out-of-control bacterial growth. If you do not want to eat yogurt, you can try a lactofermented yogurt-like beverage called kefir.
Tongue Scraping
You can get a dedicated tongue scraper, or gently use a spoon, to scrape film off your tongue. This film often contains food and bacteria. Do this daily to reduce halitosis.
Healthy Meals
Make sure to eat enough lean proteins and vegetables, with a little less fruit and whole grains. A balanced diet reduces cravings for junk food, like sugar and potato chips. These foods can stick to your teeth, contributing to bacterial growth and increasing halitosis.

In addition to using certain rinses and changing your diet so you eat healthier foods, be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing after every meal is the best practice to address bad breath. Brush your tongue after you brush your teeth; consider getting a water flosser for hard-to-reach parts of your mouth; and replace your toothbrush every two to three months.

If you have temporary bad breath after eating, you can cover this problem with sugar-free mint gum, sucking on a low-sugar mint, or rinsing your mouth with water. These are short-term solutions. They are not a substitute for good oral hygiene and healthy food. They won’t address underlying causes of bad breath, so your halitosis will return once the short-term effects of the gums or mints wear off.

If you experience chronic bad breath, it usually means you need to see a dentist to determine the underlying cause and chronic bad breath may indicate that you have a lot of bacteria on your teeth, gum disease, or dry mouth.

Lifestyle changes to eliminate bad breath.

If at-home solutions do not solve your halitosis, there may be a more serious underlying cause. Try additional lifestyle changes.

  • Consume less sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  • Eat fewer foods that may cause bad breath, such as garlic, bleu cheese, or spicy foods.
  • Drink less alcohol.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal.
  • Floss and rinse with alcohol-free mouthwash after you brush your teeth.
  • Stay hydrated with plain water, especially if you have been diagnosed with dry mouth.
  • Keep up with regular dental visits for cleanings and to diagnose any potential gum disease issues.

Some medications can also cause halitosis as a side effect. If you develop halitosis after starting a new medication, work with your primary care doctor to manage this issue. You may get a different prescription dose, use home remedies to manage halitosis, or work with a dentist to reduce this side effect.

Diagnose chronic bad breath with regular dentist appointments.

If you try at-home solutions and lifestyle changes but cannot shake bad breath, you may have underlying tooth or gum disease. Make an appointment with your dentist and ask about potential causes.

Your dentist will give you a thorough examination, pinpoint potential causes of the problem, and recommend a treatment plan. Your bad breath may be due to:

Plaque Buildup
A professional dental cleaning can remove a lot of plaque buildup, alleviating your bad breath. It’s important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine at home, to keep that plaque at bay.
Tooth Decay
Bacteria can cause cavities, leading to tooth decay that smells bad. Your dentist can address these issues, and again, good oral hygiene can prevent tooth decay from happening again.
Gum Disease
Plaque buildup can lead to gum disease, and bad breath can be one of the earliest signs of gum disease. Your dentist can help you address gum disease with a comprehensive treatment plan.
Infections and Other Sicknesses

Your dentist may be able to diagnose other conditions, like infections in your sinuses, jaw, or throat, which require an appointment with a physician. Allergies, colds, the flu, or a lung infection can lead to different bacterial growth that can change how your breath smells.

You may not even know if you have that kind of chronic infection, as you may be used to the symptoms or they may not be noticeable. But medical care can help you recover, feel better, and get rid of halitosis.

While your dentist may need to perform a procedure to address the underlying cause of your bad breath, they will also recommend some at-home solutions to combat the problem. If you are diligent about your oral hygiene, you should be able to keep your bad breath under control.

References.

Bad Breath: What Causes It and What to Do About It. (January 2019). Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.

Bad Breath (Halitosis). MedicineNet.com.

Banish Bad Breath for Good with These Helpful Home Remedies. Best Health Magazine.

What Home Remedies Can Help with Bad Breath? (August 2019). Medical News Today.

5 Foods to Keep Your Breath Smelling Fresh. (May 2017). Today.

Effect of Green Tea on Volatile Sulfur Compounds in Mouth Air. (February 2008). Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology.

Tea Tree Oil & Your Teeth. Colgate.

Bad Breath? How Probiotics Can Help. (July 2011). Huffington Post.

Bad Breath (Halitosis). (November 2018). eMedicineHealth.com.

Drug-Related Oral Malodour (Halitosis): A Literature Review. (November 2017). European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences.

The Surprising Thing That Could Be Causing Your Bad Breath. (November 2018). Johnson & Johnson.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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