10 foods to fight bad breath—aka, halitosis

Whether you’ve got a first date or a big job interview, bad breath — or “halitosis,” if you want to get fancy — can make quite a bad impression. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to use your diet to make your bright smile smell better.

red toothbrush

Good dental hygiene is the best way to prevent bad breath, but the food you eat can also make a major impact. We all know onions or garlic are a no-no if you’re looking to kick halitosis to the curb, but what causes bad breath goes deeper than stinky foods. The bacteria in your mouth, rather than the odors in the food itself, produce sulfur compounds responsible for bad breath as they break down leftover food particles and dead cells.

With these simple bad-breath remedies, you can help clear out those bacteria — and be fully prepared to dazzle your date, that job interviewer or anyone else who happens to catch a whiff.

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Foods that fight halitosis

1. Raw fruits and veggies

raw fruits and veggies

Crunchy fresh fruits and veggies, including apples, pears, carrots and celery, help produce saliva, which cleans out the odor-producing bacteria in your mouth. Plus, they’re rich in fiber, so they act as natural toothbrushes as you eat. If you opt for apples, you’ll get a triple dose of bad-breath prevention: A study in the Journal of Food Science found that apples help neutralize the bad-breath odors caused by raw garlic.

2. Probiotic yogurt

Yogurt with probiotics contains good bacteria and can help combat the bacteria that is one of the causes of bad breath. A study from the International Associations for Dental Research found that participants who ate three ounces of sugar-free yogurt twice a day for six weeks had lower levels of bacteria-causing compounds.

3. Parsley and basil


Both of these herbs contain polyphenols, natural chemicals that studies have shown work as bad-breath remedies. They’re also heavy on chlorophyll (more on that below). If you’re craving the zest of garlic but don’t want your mouth to pay the price, parsley and basil make a tasty substitute flavor combination — and a good way to nip halitosis in the bud.

4. Cherries

Studies have shown cherries remove the smell of methyl mercaptan, a bad-breath-causing gas that occurs naturally in foods, including onions and some cheeses. Lettuce has the same effect.

5. Green tea

Studies have shown that catechins, natural antioxidants found in abundance in green tea, can help fight bad-breath-causing bacteria. And like parsley and basil, green tea’s polyphenols have been found to be highly effective as well.

6. Sugarless gum

sugarless gum

Chewing gum helps to loosen and remove both food and dead cells from your teeth, which are what bacteria need to create bad breath. Sugar-sweetened gum, though, can promote further dental decay — so try gum sweetened with the natural alternative xylitol.

7. Melons and citrus

The healing power of Vitamin C is well-known, and it’s as effective in your mouth as anywhere else. Citrus fruits, melons and other foods high in Vitamin C help prevent halitosis-causing gingivitis and other oral health issues.

8. Chlorophyll


It’s not technically a food, but you can find this pigment in leafy green vegetables (including some on this list) or in supplement form at your local health food store. Chlorophyll doesn’t strictly eliminate bad breath, but it does help to mask it.

9. Ginger

Ginger contains a compound called 6-gingerol, which stimulates an enzyme in our saliva that helps to break down sulfur compounds in the mouth. Try combining pressed ginger, lemon juice and warm water for an easy, at-home mouth rinse.

10. Water


This one is easy but crucial. By keeping well-hydrated, you’ll naturally rinse away food particles and dead cells — and make your mouth a less hospitable breeding ground for breath-causing bacteria.


Bonus: Other ways to prevent bad breath

1. Clean your aligners or retainer.

If you’re here on the SmileDirectClub site, you might have a clear aligner or retainer. And if that’s the case, keeping it clean is a huge help when trying to fight halitosis. Popping them in your smile spa™ for 5 minutes or soaking them in gentle liquid soap and water for 20 minutes is a good way to go. Skip the toothpaste, which can damage the plastic. And brush and floss your teeth before each time you put them in.

2. Brush and floss after snacks.

Yes, brushing and flossing twice a day keeps your teeth healthy, but twice is just the minimum recommendation. To clean out causes of bad breath all day long, brush and floss after snacks too. Keep a pre-pasted disposable toothbrush and a few floss picks on you wherever you go.

Transform your smile.

Of course, fighting off bad breath is just one step towards a healthier, more confident smile. If you’re ready for a straighter smile you’ll love, consider SmileDirectClub aligners. SmileDirectClub aligners are half the cost of braces1 and eliminate the inconvenience of in-office visits. Plus, the average customer sees results in just six months.


1 Half the cost of braces” claim based on Single Pay vs. avg. fees (incl. diagnostics and exams) for braces treatment, as reported in a nat’l survey of orthodontists. Comparison does not include added costs, such as retainers, and is limited to mild-to-moderate teeth correction, as braces may treat additional issues.

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