Alright, let’s collectively leave the judgement at the door, here, because we’re all guilty of stanky breath from time to time. Whether the cause is your diet, good ol’ morning time, or overall dental hygiene, bad breath is just something that happens—and more often than you’d like.
Below, NYC-based cosmetic dentists Debra Glassman, DDS, and Jennifer Jablow, DDS, share their expert tips on what you can do to prevent bad breath from creeping up again, and how to fix your problem stat, if you need a fix, like, right now.
Let’s say your breath doesn’t actually smell all that bad at the moment. GOOD. Let’s keep it that way by always following these rules:
1. Don't eat pure trash.
Not only will your mom be proud of you, but eating a ton of greens and veggies also promotes a more alkaline environment in your mouth, so the bad-breath-causing acid in your body balances itself out.
And though you can totally eat rich foods from time to time (it's all about balance, yo), know that if you're guzzling milk and slamming cheese all day, there's a good chance your breath will always smell, thanks to bacteria and microbes battling it out in your digestive system.
That's why it's important to add healthy carbs like broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, and fresh fruits into your diet, which balance out the fats and promote better breath.
2. Brush and floss every. Single. Day.
Sure, flossing is an extra step, but it's an essential one. Brushing your teeth helps nix the plaque and bacteria on them, but flossing helps dislodge anything that your toothbrush can't get to.
If you don't floss regularly, the food in between your teeth will feed the bacteria in your mouth, and the more nutrients you give the bacteria, the more the bacteria will give off stinky acids that cause bad breath. Also, again, your mom will be really proud of you.
3. Swap your coffee for juice.
Coffee contains a high level of acid (so please, don't bathe in it), which can mess with your alkaline levels to produce bad breath. Green juice—with no added sugars, mind you—contains a lower level of acid, which will help your gut health and acidity levels function properly.
4. Drink 48 ounces of water a day.
There's a reason why your breath smells so terrible after a night of drinking (okay, there are a bunch of reasons, like possibly forgetting to brush your teeth after downing a whole pizza in your bed): Dehydration reduces your saliva production, which can cause a growth in odor-causing bacteria.
The fix? Drinking some H2O and non-sugary liquids, which will lubricate your mouth and keep bad bacteria at bay. And sorry, but your soda doesn't cut it. Aside from the whole teeth-rotting-sugar thing, many bottled sports drinks, sodas, and iced teas are preserved with citric acid, an ingredient that not only wears away at the enamel on your teeth, but contributes to bad breath. So stick with some plain ol' water, and maybe go easy on the wine tonight.
5. Take probiotics.
Probiotics give your body the proper enzymes it needs to efficiently break down foods and decrease the chance of food fermenting in your stomach. Try Advanced Naturals probiotics (Dr. Glassman's favorite) and take 1-2 supplements daily, ideally with food.
6. Steer clear of cigarettes.
Smoking not only dries out your mouth and body tissues, but the nicotine actually squeezes your blood vessels, preventing a healthy saliva flow. This combo is what disrupts your mouth's normal functioning and leads to smelly breath. The not-so-easy fix? Stop smoking ASAP. Or, you know, never start. Ever.
7. Don't skip your dentist appointments.
See your dentist twice a year for cleanings, and while you're there, don't hesitate to bring up your concerns. Have your doctor check things out if you've tried everything and your bad breath still isn't going away.
So your Tinder date is five minutes away, and you're Googling this article for help with your bad breath. Don't freak—you've got some time. Here are some immediate steps you can take to rid that stale breath smell ASAP.
9. Snack on apples or any other crunchy, healthy foods.
Better make a quick stop at a Whole Foods (that's romantic, right?). The hard texture of apples, celery, carrots, etc., can remove food caught between your teeth and rub away the bacteria that's clinging to them. Think of crunchy health foods as nature's toothbrush.
10. Rinse with alcohol-free mouthwash.
Dr. Glassman suggests opting for a mouthwash without alcohol—alcohol dries your mouth out and leads to extra bacteria growth—or even creating your own at home using one-tablespoon baking soda poured into one-cup warm water, with a few drops of essential peppermint oil. "The baking soda is antibacterial, and it can help freshen your breath in a pinch if you run out of mouthwash," she says.
Dr. Jablow also adds, "It's also important to pick up an alcohol-free mouthwash with a zinc compound in it, since zinc kills the volatile sulphur compounds." Hopefully you magically have all of these products and DIY ingredients at the ready, but if not, try stocking up on these date-approved formulas, below.
11. Clean your tongue.
Fact: Bacteria stick to your taste buds and release a waste byproduct that causes a gross stench. So, you know, perfect for kissing. Try using a tongue scraper (like this one), or, in a pinch, use a clean spoon to gently scrape your tongue after brushing to remove any bacteria or plaque.
12. Chew sugarless gum that contains xylitol.
Chewing gum increases salivary flow and helps remove some bacteria and staining, but make sure it's sugar-free, so you're not accidentally feeding the bacteria in your mouth.
Opt for a brand that contains the sweetener xylitol, which also happens to be antibacterial. (try SuperSmile Whitening Gum With Xylitol, or, if you're not a gum fan, try Spry Xylitol Mints). So not only will it help fight cavities and bacteria, but it'll leave your breath smelling freshly sweet, fast.
13. Chew on fresh mint leaves or parsley.
You laugh, but it works! If you're already on your date, order a drink with mint leaves, or casually ask your server for a side of parsley (you just, um, really love parsley, okay?). The mint will help freshen your breath and up your greens intake, and the parsley contains chlorophyll, which Dr. Jablow says fights against sulphur compounds (aka the rotten-egg smell caused by hydrogen sulfide).