There’s a reason conventional wisdom holds that you shouldn’t eat garlic or onions while on a first date: The freshness of your breath (or lack thereof) can affect the impression you make on other people. From dates to board meetings, knowing that you have minty-fresh breath is a major confidence booster.
You already know you should be brushing and flossing every day and that smoking cigarettes can contribute to bad breath. But what do you do when maintaining oral hygiene and kicking the nicotine habit don’t give you the minty-fresh breath you crave? In that case, it might be time to give any of these slightly more unusual breath-freshening strategies a try.
Clear out your sinuses.
If you’ve recently gotten over a cold, suffer from allergies, or are otherwise congested on a regular basis, then this could be the culprit behind persistent bad breath. Congestion and postnasal drip can both result in unsavory bacteria making its way into your oral cavity, which can provoke foul odors in your mouth.
Drink more water.
Dry mouth is one of the most common causes of bad breath. That might sound odd, but it makes sense when you understand that saliva plays a big role in removing odor-causing bacteria from your mouth. If you aren’t producing a lot of saliva, then that bacteria has a chance to stick around and foul up your breath. The solution? Make it a point to stay well hydrated every day. Regularly sipping on water will help serve the same function as saliva: It will rinse out your mouth so your breath stays fresher.
Try a tongue scraper.
You know that white coating that covers your tongue? Bacteria love it. If left to their own devices, they’ll hang out on your tongue and stink up the joint. Brushing your tongue with your toothbrush should help, but you can up the ante by utilizing a tongue scraper. These simple and affordable devices allow you to reach far back onto your tongue and evenly scrape build up off its entire surface.
Gargle with salt water.
The classic combination of warm water and salt doesn’t just soothe a sore throat—it can also combat bad breath. That’s because gargling with warm salt water helps remove mucus and bacteria from the back of the throat, thereby preventing their ability to stick around and produce foul odors.
Add herbs and spices to your diet.
A variety of herbs and spices have been shown to have a breath-freshening effect. These include cinnamon, cardamom, clove, fennel, fresh mint leaves, and parsley. Chewing on some mint or parsley leaves or on the seeds of any of these spices may be the pick-me-up your breath needs.
Sip some green tea.
Studies have found that drinking green tea may help wipe out bad breath. That’s because the antioxidants found in green tea help eradicate compounds in the mouth that have been shown to contribute to foul-smelling breath. Bonus? These antioxidants aren’t just good for your mouth—they’re good for your entire immune system.
In addition to these strategies, it’s also important to see a dentist regularly for professional cleanings. Couple proper oral hygiene and dentist visits with some or all of these strategies, and you’re likely to enjoy minty-fresh breath every day of the week.