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These common foods can help hide halitosis
at least for a short while.
By Beth W. Orenstein | Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
Maybe you shouldn’t have had those raw onions with your hamburger at lunch, because now you're faced withbad breathall afternoon. Many people find they can’t hide what they ate because certain foods linger in their systems, causing bad breath. Onions and garlic are probably the most common and most well-known instigators of bad breath, or halitosis, but there are others.
The issue with foods like onions and garlic is that they contain pungent oils that get carried through your bloodstream to your lungs. When you breathe out, the pungent leftovers are exhaled too.
Fortunately, just as eating certain foods can cause your breath to be unpleasant, other foods can help mask bad breath — for a time. “It will only be temporary,” notes Gerald P. Curatola, DDS, clinical associate professor at the New York University College of Dentistry and an oral health and wellness expert for The Dr. Oz Show. The following foods could provide relief for an hour or two, until you are able to attack the underlying cause — odor-producing bacteria in your mouth.
Foods that can help mask bad breath include:
Parsley. Parsley is probably one of the most well-known ways to treat bad breath. Its oils are what do the trick. Likewise, spearmint and cinnamon can help mask bad breath. Some other herbs and spices that work for the same reason are coriander or cilantro, tarragon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and cardamom. ·
Green tea. Green tea contains catechin, a powerful antioxidant that can fend off bacteria — remember, bacteria causes the unwanted odor. ·
Yogurt. Some studies have shown that the live active cultures in yogurt help reduce bad breath, Dr. Curatola says. If the yogurt has probiotics (good bacteria), it can overpower the bad, foul-smelling bacteria. ·
Apples and pears. “Fruits help with the production of saliva, which is essential to nourishing and rebalancing the natural oral ecology of the mouth,” Curatola says. ·
Oranges, melons, and berries. These fruits in particular are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C not only is helpful for keeping bacteria in check, but also helps combat gum diseases and gingivitis, which also can cause bad breath. ·
Celery, carrots, and cucumbers. These crunchy munchies encourage the production of saliva, the bacteria rinse agent. ·
Almonds and other nuts. They work like fruits and vegetables. “The fiber-rich content of fruits, vegetables, and nuts also acts like ‘tiny toothbrushes’ on teeth and has been shown to keep odor-causing bacteria from staining teeth,” Curatola says.
More Ways to Mask Bad Breath
Other ways to treat halitosis:
Drink water. You want to keep your mouth moist. Water rinses out your mouth, and it's generally good for your system.
Chew sugarless gum. It not only masks the odor but also promotes the production of saliva, which helps rinse your mouth of harmful plaque and bacteria, explains Kimberly Harms, DDS, a dentist in Farmington, Minn., and a spokeswoman for the American Dental Association.
Pop some breath mints. Like eating sprigs of parsley or other herbs, sucking on breath mints will mask the odor for at least a little while, Dr. Harms says.
Be sure the gum and mints you choose are sugarless. Sugar creates plaque, and you could be adding to the problem if you chew on sugary sweets or gum.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
Food is really only a temporary solution to any bad breath problem. Most important, practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day and floss daily. If bad breath is a problem, be sure to brush your tongue as well — that's where odor-causing bacteria like to live, especially at night when your mouth is dry. Make certain to get regular dental checkups.
If bad breath is a persistent problem, talk with your doctor. It could be a sign of something other than the onions you had at lunch.