Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To reduce or prevent bad breath:

  • Brush your teeth after you eat. Keep a toothbrush at work to use after eating. Brush using a fluoride-containing toothpaste at least twice a day, especially after meals. Toothpaste with antibacterial properties has been shown to reduce bad breath odors.
  • Floss at least once a day. Proper flossing removes food particles and plaque from between your teeth, helping to control bad breath.
  • Brush your tongue. Your tongue harbors bacteria, so carefully brushing it may help reduce odors. People who have a coated tongue from a significant overgrowth of bacteria (from smoking or dry mouth, for example) may benefit from using a tongue scraper. Or use a toothbrush that has a built-in tongue cleaner.
  • Clean your dentures or dental appliances. If you wear a bridge or a partial or complete denture, clean it thoroughly at least once a day or as directed by your dentist. If you have a dental retainer or mouth guard, clean it each time before you put it in your mouth. Your dentist can recommend the best cleaning product.
  • Avoid dry mouth. To keep your mouth moist, avoid tobacco and drink plenty of water — not coffee, soft drinks or alcohol, which can lead to a drier mouth. Chew gum or suck on candy — preferably sugarless — to stimulate saliva. If you have chronic dry mouth, your dentist or physician may prescribe an artificial saliva preparation or an oral medication that stimulates the flow of saliva.
  • Adjust your diet. Avoid food and beverages that can cause bad breath. Avoid sticky, sugary foods.
  • Regularly get a new toothbrush. Change your toothbrush when it becomes frayed, about every three to four months, and choose a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups. See your dentist on a regular basis — generally once or twice a year — to have your teeth or dentures examined and cleaned.
Dec. 18, 2012