When it comes to putting a damper on your social life, nothing gets in the way quite like bad breath. Whether you're cozying up to someone at the bar, or talking within close quarters at a networking event, it's never easy (or fun) to mask bad breath. We've all been there, which is why it's good to know a few fast ways to freshen your breath so you can get back to enjoying yourself.
Of course, chewing some minty gum is always an option. But life is rarely that easy. You might find yourself totally gum-less with a date fast approaching. Or maybe you're climbing into a packed cab post-garlic fries, or rushing into an after-lunch meeting with your boss.
Smelly breath can be mildly mortifying, and might even affect your confidence. As Dr. Whitney Wright, founding orthodontist at Risas Dental and Braces says, "Fresh breath give you confidence and lets others know that you take care of yourself." If you're feeling less than fresh, it may send the wrong message.
Luckily, there are a million little ways to freshen up your breath, and often all it takes is something random you have on hand. If you have some sparkling water or a banana, for instance, you can be fresh as a daisy in no time. Read on for a few genius ways to freshen your breath, so you never have to worry again.
1. Chew On A Lemon
If you're out for lunch and get a serious case of onion breath, go ahead and ask your server for lemon water. Then — as sneakily or blatantly as you please —chew on the rind. As Wright says, "The citric acid will stimulate the salivary glands and fight bad breath." Genius, right?
2. Pop A Piece Of Parsley
After a particularly smelly meal (garlic noodles, anyone?) take that sprig of decorative parsley from your plate and chew on it. Or ask for a side dish that contains herbs like mint or coriander. "Herbs contain essential oils that are powerful breath fresheners," says registered dietitian Sarah Greenfield. They really can do the trick.
3. Give Oil Pulling A Try
If you have a few extra moments, give oil pulling a try. All you have to do is swish organic, cold-pressed sesame seed oil in your mouth for ten to 15 minutes, Greenfield tells me. Then spit it out. The oil will cling to all the smelly bacteria, thus leaving your mouth as fresh as can be.
4. Sip On Sparkling Water
If your breath is truly kickin', a sip of sparkling water can calm things down. As nutritionist Luci Gabel, MA, MBA, ACE, ACSM says, "If you don't have gum, and you're in a situation where you need fresh breath fast, sipping on sparkling water can really do wonders." It's all thanks to the bubbles, which can help clean your teeth.
5. Avoid Sugary Mints
It may be tempting to pop a mint, but do try to avoid any candy/sugar/sweets if you can. As NYC-based dentist Dr. Lee Gause says, "The bacteria in our mouths that causes bad breath and gum disease feeds on sugar." So really, sucking on that mint will only make things worse. If you're truly in a jam, take a drink of water to clean things out.
5. Have A Crunchy Snack
You know how chewing gum kinda helps strip away the slimy, dirty feeling from your teeth? Crunchy snacks work in much the same way, minus that bacteria-inducing sugar. Keep a few fibrous foods around, like carrots or apples, and snack on them when you're feeling less than fresh. As Gause tells me, the crunchiness can help keep bad breath at bay.
7. Swish Some Baking Soda
Baking soda may not taste great, but there's no denying it's great at cleaning things — including your mouth. To create the most natural rinse ever, mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda and a few drops of peppermint oil. According to features writer Barbara H. Seeber on EverydayHealth.com, it will change the pH level in your mouth and help fight odors. (Just make sure you don't swallow it.)
8. Scrape The Back Of Your Tongue
If you don't have a traditional tongue scraper, grab a spoon and get to work. "Hold the tip of the tongue with gauze to pull it forward in order to clean the back of the tongue," Seeber said. This will allow you to really get in there to remove bacteria and dead cells that can cause odor.
9. Eat Something Cinnamon-y
Cinnamon is yet another great natural breath fixer. As registered nurse and natural remedies expert Rebecca Lee says, "Cinnamon releases essential oils that are great at killing harmful bacteria. This spice is found to contain a component called aldehyde, which is great at keeping noxious bacteria at bay." Plus, this is one trick that actually tastes great. (Yay.)
10. Sip Some Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of those flavors that takes some getting used to. But once you do, you'll wonder why it took you so long to try — especially since it does wonders for the breath. As Lee says, "Apple cider vinegar has many anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that can kill odor-causing bacteria. It can also break down plaque that harbors many bacteria that cause bad breath." Win win, really.
11. Rub A Banana On Your Teeth
If all else fails, you can always rub a banana on your teeth. You know, just casually after breakfast. As health expert Cherie Corso tells me, banana contains the enzyme biotin, which can help neutralize smell. Plus the peel is known to help whiten teeth, so go ahead and rub that on as well.
Whether you're on a date, heading to work, or sitting at home with a big plate of onion rings, it seems there's always a way to quickly freshen your breath.
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