“A blind date?!” Dollah and I were equally surprised. We’ve never seen Shalini put so much effort into dressing up before. Compared to her usually sporty attire, Shalini looked elegantly beautiful today.
“Yes, and it’s urgent, Juliet! I need a solution for my breath after my heavy lunch in the afternoon!” said Shalini hurriedly.
90% of bad breath problems occur due to oral conditions (i.e. oral hygiene and oral care). Usually, it is the bacteria in our mouths that causes these bad breaths.
Leftover food particles or sugars on our teeth, gums, or tongue attract and stimulate the reproduction of bacteria to feed on them. These bacteria then release toxic gases (which causes the smell in our breaths!) while feeding on the leftover food particles.
Therefore, to handle bad breath problems quickly, we need to find ways to get rid of these bacteria and be in control of our oral cavity!
1. Apples, Pears
Chewing apples and pears stimulate saliva production in our mouths. Notice the crunching sounds you make when taking a bite of an apple or a pear? These crunches, along with the saliva produced, can clean our teeth and neutralise the oral conditions in our mouths.
Bacterial deposition is a common occurrence in our mouths, and it is these bacteria that often cause our bad breath. Saliva acts as a natural cleanser both to our teeth and our tongue to clean off any bacteria or food particles stuck in our mouths.
Apples and pears also contain polyphenol contents which can break down sulfur compounds* - the main culprits behind our bad breaths!
*Sulfur compounds: These are the known as the main culprits behind our bad breaths. Highly present in onions and garlics (also known as the kings and queens of bad breaths), they are easily absorbed into our tissue and bloodstream, producing bad-smelling gases as we exhale.
2. Mint leaves, Parsley
This is one of the most well-known solution to bad breath. There is a reason why parsley or mint leaves are often used to garnish or complete a heavily flavoured dish.
Oils from these leaves are the saviours here, being able to fight bacteria that cause bad breath upon entering our oral cavity. The high polyphenol content in mint leaves and parsley also break down sulfur compounds.
So when you see these tiny leaves at the side or top of your dish served at a restaurant, keep them aside and take them at the end of your meal so that your dinner flavours don’t linger on late into the night!
Now you know why mint leaves and parsley are also used in toothpastes!
3. Celery, Carrot, Cucumber
The vegetables of 3C’s you see almost everywhere on healthy vegetables. Well, that’s because they are! They’re also crunchy, crispy, and full of Vitamin C!
The crunchiness of these vegetables stimulate saliva on one hand, and brush our teeth like a mini-toothbrush on the other.
Vitamin C is also a great defender of our oral cavity against bacteria, and celery is also effective in teeth whitening - so there’s nothing to lose here!
4. Green tea
Always carry around a pack of green tea with you, for you never know when you’ll need it - a quick quench of thirst, to absorb moisture in your shoes, to clean up a stain (yes, it does wonders to some), and also to get rid of bad breath!
First of all, green tea contains catechin, an antioxidant compound especially effective in getting rid of bacteria in our oral cavity. Remember, less bacteria = less bad breath!
Secondly, natural compounds in green tea act as disinfectant against bacteria in our digestive tract. And most importantly, green tea has one of the highest content of polyphenols - antioxidants that prevent the growth of bacteria.
Polyphenols are the most effective antioxidant that can reduce sulfur compounds in our mouths. So if you had a meal of onions and garlics, do finish with a cup of green tea to not have a vampire-repelling breath!
5. Chewing gum
We have all loved chewing gum at least once in our lives, especially during our teenage years.
However, it’s a little different here: the key word to chewing gum for getting rid of bad breath is SUGAR-FREE. Mint-flavoured gums are also more effective in covering bad breath. Besides, the chewy and sticky texture of gums can remove food particles stuck on our teeth and gums.
Remember: pick the sugar-free option from the counter because sugar would instead promote bacterial growth! If you chew gum with sugar, the mint flavours from the gum would only mask your breath (very) temporarily, and it could also be counter-effective as the sugars left behind attract even more bacteria deposits on your teeth and gums.
Bacteria has a sweet tooth, it loves sugar so much that any generous amount of sugars in our mouths would stimulate bacteria reproduction so rapid that our saliva can’t wash off quickly enough.
6. Cardamom pods, Fennel seeds
Cardamom pods are a popular choice to get rid of bad breath in India. These small seeds are crunchy, high in fibre, and fresh in flavour. These mean cleaning aid, digestive aid, and fresh breath!
The crunchiness of cardamom pods and fennel seeds stimulate saliva while brushing our teeth and gums with their crispy and high fibre textures. They also aid in digestion, which means that food particles do not stay stuck in our digestive tracts for too long.
The longer our food stays in our stomach or digestive tract, the more the toxic released through our mouth - and these toxic gases do not smell nice.
Cardamom pods and fennel seeds also have unique flavours similar to that of mint and parsley that can give us a natural, fresh breath.
Probably a surprise addition to this list, isn’t it? Probiotics*, along with the active cultures in yogurt like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus (these active cultures do have active names!), fend off bacteria really well.
The presence of these ‘good bacteria’ phase off the bacteria that cause bad breath in our mouths. They also work very well in reducing sulfide compounds and hydrogen sulfide, the waste products left behind by the bacteria.
However, similarly to chewing gum, it is important that you remember to choose an unsweetened yogurt over a sugar-flavoured one.
The presence of sugar would attract sugar-loving (and bad breath-causing) bacteria, making it more difficult for the ‘good bacteria’ in yogurt to do their work. So get you sugarless yogurt as your dessert!
*Probiotics: This is the category of microorganisms (usually bacteria) put into our body for their health benefits.
Citrus include lemon, orange, melons, berries, and any fruits that are sour and nice. Fruits with a pH value of less than 3.6 have been found to effectively destroy enzymes that cause bad breath.
These fruits also have high vitamin C content, which is especially effective in fighting bacteria. Vitamin C also helps to prevent gum disease and gingivitis*, which can lead to bad breath.
The antioxidants in fresh citrus fruits neutralise any present odours in our mouth and our stomachs, ensuring that the air leaving our breaths are fresh.
Unless you’ve added no sugar at all to your juice, eating the fruit itself is often better in treating bad breath. The sugars added in juices would only attract more bacteria rather than getting rid of them.
*Gingivitis: An inflammation or infection of gum, usually mild and temporary. Gingivitis is a common occurrence if oral hygiene is not practised carefully, especially at the area between the teeth and gums.
9. Almond, Nuts
The rich fibre in nuts act like a cute mini toothbrush, brushing off any bacteria or food particles deposited on our teeth.
Remember how they can help us in keeping our teeth clean and bright? They’re equally effective in keeping out bad breath! Walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help a ton in reducing bacterial deposition in our oral cavity.
It is a given, but it is a necessity. Water is like artificial saliva, enhancing the cleansing capabilities in our mouths. Water can wash food particles away as well as reduce the growth of bacteria, as bacteria loves a dry mouth environment to reproduce freely and happily.
Make it a habit to rinse your mouth with water or just swish the water around in your mouth after each meal. This simple practice can keep your mouth wet and clean any hidden areas of bacterial deposition.
Sweet drinks like juices or beverages can also help in washing and cleansing, but they do leave behind a new batch of sugars on our teeth and tongue, and you know what these do - attract bacteria all over again!
“Alright, all set?”
Dollah seems as excited as Shalini for her upcoming blind date.
“Makeup, clothes, breath… check. Alrighty, thanks for the tips - wish me luck!”
And off Shalini goes.
Have you experienced having a bad breath before a major event? Do share this with your friends so that you know what to do to take care of one!
Juliet's Reminder: These small solutions for bad breath only works to cover them temporarily. To get to the root of the problem and solve your bad breath problem, it is better to get a dental check-up - so find a dental clinic near you today!