How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

There are many ways to cover up bad breath, but if you’re tired of and want to banish halitosis once and for all, take these instructions to heart–or should we say mouth?


  1. Clean your mouth thoroughly, regularly. Two major sources of mouth odor are bacteria and decaying food particles. There are hundreds of nooks and crannies in the landscape of your mouth where these offenders can get lodged. Brushing is not enough.
    • Clean your tongue. Your tongue, unfortunately, is like a shaggy carpet where all kinds of smelly stuff can hide. When you brush your teeth (which should be at least twice a day) use your toothbrush, the edge of a spoon, or a tongue cleaner to “scrape” your tongue.
      • If you have a sensitive gag reflex, you might not like this task. You need to clean your entire tongue, including the part close to your tonsils. Read >How to Suppress the Gag Reflex> for some tips.
    • Floss. Make it as much of a mindless habit as brushing your teeth. At first, your gums might bleed as you dislodge chunks of food that have “stuck” to your teeth and gum for who knows how long. But take a second to smell the floss after you pass it through your teeth, if you dare. You’ll see (or smell) where the bad breath is coming from.
  2. Keep your mouth moisturized. A dry mouth is a stinky mouth. That’s why your breath is worse in the morning; your mouth produces less saliva as you sleep. Saliva is the enemy of bad breath because not only does it physically wash bacteria and food particles away, but it also has antiseptic and enzymes that kill bacteria.
    • Chewing gum stimulates saliva production (in addition to covering up the odor with some kind of scent). Mints do not encourage saliva production.
    • Drink water. It won’t necessarily increase saliva production, but it’ll wash out your mouth and it’s good for you. See How to Drink More Water Every Day.
    • Dry mouth can be caused by certain medications and medical conditions. Ask your doctor about switching medications, or addressing the underlying condition.
  3. Choose your gum carefully. As mentioned in the previous step, any gum will help with bad breath because the chewing action results in more saliva being produced. Some gums, however, have better bad-breath-fighting abilities than others:
    • Cinnamon flavoring seems to be especially effective in reducing bacteria counts in your mouth.
    • Look for gum sweetened with xylitol. For one thing, sugar’s not good for your mouth. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that actually works to prevent bacteria from replicating in the mouth.
  4. Eat a banana You probably already know to avoid notorious stink foods like onions, garlic, cheese, and coffee (or at least brush vigorously after eating them). But did you know that if you’re on a low-carb diet, you might have “ketone breath”? Basically, as your body breaks down fats instead of carbs for energy, it creates ketones, some of which are released in your mouth. Unfortunately, ketones smell bad, and so will your breath. If you’re on a strict carb-restricting diet, or any diet that forces you to burn fat instead of carbs, consider throwing healthy carb-rich snacks into the mix, like apples or bananas.
    • This will also happen to anyone who whether for religious reasons, or because they are anorexic. If you are anorexic, bad breath is only one of the reasons to stop starving yourself. Read How to Cope if You Want to Become Anorexic.
  5. Talk to a doctor. If you’ve followed the above steps diligently and the bad breath persists, you may have a medical issue that needs to be treated. Here are some of the potential culprits:
    • Tonsil stones. These are lumps of calcified food, mucus and bacteria that appear as white spots on your tonsils. If seen, they can be mistaken for a throat infection, although sometimes they are not visible to the naked eye. You might also notice a metallic taste in your mouth, and/or pain when swallowing.
    • Diabetic ketoacidosis. If you have diabetes, it may be causing your body to burn fat instead of glucose, creating the ketone breath referred to in the previous step. This is a serious condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible.
    • Trimethylaminuria. If your body can’t break down a chemical called trimethylamine, it will be released in your saliva, causing bad breath. It’ll also be released in your sweat, so persistent body odor might be an accompanying symptom.
    • Constipation is also cause of bad breath. Constipation bad breath could be due to several causes from dietary to hormonal or be even a side effect of medications and anatomical. Incidentally, normal bad breath (that is, bad breath not caused by digestive problems) may also be due to a side effect of drugs you are taking, which could dry up the mouth, causing bad breath.
    • Treating constipation bad breath consists in treating the constipation itself. If the problem is dietary in nature, then changing your dietary habits, laxatives, and fiber therapy could help treat the constipation and in the process the symptom of constipation bad breath. Enemas and surgery though rare may also be used to treat acute cases of constipation.
    • A sinus infection can also cause persistent bad breath. When blowing your nose, if the mucous is consistently dark or has a greenish cast, there’s a chance you may have a sinus infection. To get rid of it, you will need to be treated by a doctor.
  6. Try mouthwash. It helps some by using antiseptics. Try ACT or Listerine.


  • Microbes are naturally everywhere. In some areas of the body, including the mouth, bacteria can be helpful. Some exposures, such as oral sex, can cause a temporary imbalance that can cause bad breath. This is easily corrected.
  • Mouthwash is only a temporary fix. It masks the odor. Some types also kill microbes, although often weakly and with little lasting effect.
  • The best immediate and lasting cure for microbial bad breath is to rinse with hydrogen peroxide for 5-30 seconds. Most directions suggest 50% HO and 50% H2O, although full strength is OK for shorter periods. 8+ ounce bottles of hydrogen peroxide are available for less than $1 in every pharmacy and grocery store in the US, however it seems uncommon in Europe and Japan.
  • The second best cure is to rinse with water along with a few drops of grapefruit seed extract (GSE). This is the only good cure for oral yeast infections (thrush), at least sometimes working better than prescription solutions. GSE is edible and can be used topically. However, be sure to rinse or eat after as it is caustic over extended periods, like sleeping. The most obvious symptoms of thrush is a creamy-white looking tongue or redness and irritation at the corners of the mouth. Elsewhere, the same kind of infection is not called thrush and most often produces itchy, sometimes moist skin.
  • If bad breath persists after following these steps, see your Dentist for a professional cleaning, prescription anti-bacterial wash, and advice on other steps you can take.


  • Do not stop prescription medication without consulting your doctor first.

Sources and Citations

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  3. 3.0 3.1

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