7 Bad Breath Remedies

Find how what might be causing your bad breath and learn how to treat it with these natural bad breath remedies.

bad breath remedies

Bacteria in the mouth are the main culprits responsible for bad breath, particular in the back part of the tongue.

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Whether you wake up with bad breath occasionally or you experience it most of the time, bad breath can be frustrating and embarrassing. Halitosis, the medical term for bad breath, can be caused by a variety of factors. These bad breath remedies can help you to treat the root cause of the odor to be confident in your fresh breath all day long.

Rule Out Any Underlying Conditions Before Trying Bad Breath Remedies

Sometimes, bad breath can be caused by conditions involving the oral cavity, respiratory tract, and even gastrointestinal tract. Oral diseases like periodontitis and gingivitis often contribute to halitosis. In one study, 57.4% of 94 patients with halitosis had a diagnosable gastrointestinal disorder that contributed to their bad breath. Serious conditions like liver or kidney disease can also cause bad breath.[1] Consult your dentist and doctor to rule out any of these underlying conditions.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Build up of food, debris, and plaque are most often responsible for halitosis.[2] Brush your teeth at least twice a day and make sure to floss. Food particles stuck in the teeth for a period of time can attract the bacteria that cause bad breath and start to give off odor. Brush your tongue too, as the tongue can harbor these bacteria, especially in the back.[3]

Manage Bacteria

Bacteria in the mouth are the main culprits responsible for halitosis, particular in the back part of the tongue. These bacteria use amino acids to produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which have a strong, bad odor.[3] Brushing and flossing can help to keep these bacteria at bay. Consuming probiotics can also help to balance the microbiota in the oral cavity and treat bad breath.[4] Try eating sourdough, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, or other fermented foods, or take a probiotic supplement.

Keep Hydrated

When our mouths are dry, saliva is not flowing. Saliva helps to break down food and it protect the mouth from external pathogens, as it contains compounds that keep bacteria away. Dry mouth is commonly associated with halitosis because it lets bacteria thrive.[1] This is why we often wake up with bad breath; our mouths gets dry overnight. Keeping your saliva flowing is important in preventing bad breath, so drink plenty of water. You can also try sucking on sugar-free, natural candies or gum to stimulate the flow of saliva.

Watch What You Eat and Drink

Most of us have experienced the potent smell that occurs after eating garlic. Garlic, onions, and certain spices can all contribute to bad breath. Interestingly, drinking milk before eating garlic can combat garlic’s effect on our breath.[1] Crunchy, fibrous foods like carrots, apples, and celery can be beneficial because they scrape plaque and increase the flow of saliva. Some people find that chewing on herbs like mint or parsley is a good way to keep your breath smelling pleasant.

Some research shows that compounds in tea might also help fight bad breath. In particular, green tea extracts might be especially effective bad breath remedies.[5] Try drinking more green tea, which comes with a plethora of additional health benefits, or look for natural chewing gums or mouth sprays containing green tea extract.

Try Adding Zinc

Zinc effectively reduces breath odor.[3] In one study, a candy that contained zinc along with propolis reduced bad breath up to 60%, compared to a placebo that reduced it only 10%.[6] Toothpastes containing zinc also reduce breath odor better than placebo in people with halitosis.[7] A zinc supplement can also help address a zinc deficiency, which can contribute to poor oral health.

Essential Oils and Herbs Can Also Help

Essential oils have long been used to fight bad bacteria and can be effective bad breath remedies. One study used a combination of tea tree, peppermint, and lemon essential oils to successfully treat bad breath in ICU patients.[8] Echinacea, lavender, and chrysanthemum have also been found to be effective herbs for combating halitosis.[3]

Look for all-natural products containing these herbs and essential oils, or try making your own mouthwash. Steep the herbs in water for 20 minutes to infuse, or add 10 to 20 drops of essential oils to 1 cup of water. Swish the herb or essential oil-infused water in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit.

Share Your Experience

Have you experienced bad breath and been able to overcome it? If so, what were your bad breath remedies? Share your ideas in the comments section below. You can even comment anonymously if that way is less embarrassing or awkward. Please let us hear from you.


Gingivitis Can Be Cured At Home In Its Early Stages
Avoid Tooth Pain and Related Health Complications: Protect Your Teeth and Gums
The Startling Dangers of Tooth Infection

This article was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated. 

[1] Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Sep;14(5):463-8.

[2] J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2011 Oct;15(4):349-52.

[3] Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 2010 Apr;71(2):129-40.

[4] J Med Life. 2011 Nov 14;4(4):387-94. Epub 2011 Nov 24.

[5] Arch Oral Biol. 2012 May;57(5):429-35.

[6] Quintessence Int. 2012 Apr;43(4):313-7.

[7] Clin Evid (Online). 2014 Sep 18;2014. pii: 1305.

[8] Phytother Res. 2007 Jul;21(7):641-3.

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UHN Staff

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