Are you worried your friends and colleagues may be getting bowled over by your breath? Bad breath affects over half of us. It can be caused by a bunch of factors, including plaque, inflammation of the gums and decay in the mouth, smoking or even medication. It’s also often caused by something we’ve eaten. “We all know that garlic makes it worse,” says dental hygienist says Julie Linzel.
Good oral hygiene, of course, is still the best way to keep your breath sweet. But some kinds of food and drink can actually fight bad breath. Go ahead and grab one of these five choices to freshen your breath between meals.
1. Say cheese (and yogurt)
“A piece of cheese after you’ve eaten can neutralize some of those dietary acids, which may be stuck on your teeth and giving you that bad breath odor,” says Linzel. A serving of unsweetened yogurt can also help. A small Japanese study found that volunteers with halitosis who ate yogurt twice a day had reduced levels of hydrogen sulfide, a compound that can cause bad breath.
2. Munch on stuff with crunch
Since it’s the soft and sticky foods that are most likely to be trapped on your teeth, causing bacteria buildup and bad odors, reach for a snack that’s neither. Apples, carrots and celery all scrub your teeth as you eat, helping to strip away those leftover bits of raisin Danish.
3. Have a cuppa
The polyphenols or compounds in black tea may help your breath in two ways: First, they prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause foul breath. Second, they decrease the bacteria’s production of stinky byproducts. Black tea has also been shown to help prevent tooth decay; so all in all, this steaming beverage makes for a good mouth freshener! One thing to beware: too much caffeine can dry out your mouth. Since that can also do a number on your breath, keep your tea intake to a moderate level, or go for decaf.
4. Sugarless candies and gum
Any snack that increases saliva flow in your mouth, like sugar-free candy or gum, will help reduce odor in your mouth, says Linzel. Wondering what flavor to opt for? Mint may temporarily mask a bad smell. Cinnamon, on the other hand, may actually help to stop it at the source. The plant essential oil that’s often used for flavoring cinnamon gums and candies, known as cinnamic aldehyde, can reduce odor-causing bacteria.
5. Wet your whistle with water
A dry mouth can make your breath pretty unbearable. In some ways, water acts like artificial saliva, since it can wash away those leftover bits of garlic bread. Keep a water bottle in your work space—your colleagues will likely thank you for it.