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The best and worst foods for your breath

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The best foods for good breath

There are certain foods and drinks that may make your breath smell nicer.

1. Water. As well as having no smell, water helps wash away all those bits of food lodged between youth teeth after eating. "Keeping hydrated and having enough fluid during the day will act to clean your palate and help you produce enough saliva," says Ana-Kristina.

2. Sugar-free gum. Chewing sugar-free gum not only makes breath fresh smelling it also increases the flow of saliva and helps remove bacteria too. Sugary gum isn't a good idea as the sugars themselves can cause more bacteria and worse breath.

Chew sugar-free gum after meals when you can't clean your teeth to help keep your mouth fresh, and to get rid of stray pieces of food.

3. Fruit and vegetables. Hard crunchy raw vegetables and fruits can help make breath fresher. Broccoli and red pepper, which are high in vitamin C, can reduce bacteria in the mouth. As they are crunchy they can act as a cleaner by loosening trapped particles of food.

"If you want a fresh and zesty flavour, flavours like lemon, lime and mint are a good choice," says Ana-Kristina.

4. Yoghurt. Sugar-free yoghurt may help sweeten breath. In a small Japanese study people with bad breath were given yoghurt to eat twice a day for 6 weeks. It was found to reduce the levels of the compound hydrogen sulphide, which can lead to smelly breath, in 80% of volunteers. It also reduced plaque.

5. Herbs and Spices. Chewing a sprig of the herb parsley is an old-fashioned remedy for bad breath, which may just work. Other herbs and spices that are commonly used for deodorising breath include peppermint, sage, cloves and fennel. There's no scientific proof that they work but they have been used for centuries and are unlikely to do any harm.

Build-up of bacteria

If it's not a particular food or drink that's causing your breath to smell, it may be the bacteria inside your mouth that are the cause. Bits of food stuck between your teeth, or not enough brushing, leads to increased bacteria.

"Bad breath is often caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth which left to their own devices produce sulphur by-products, which give off the bad odour," explains Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor to the British Dental Association.

Brushing your teeth

The simple solution is brushing your teeth effectively and for enough time.

"Ensure you brush for 2 minutes twice a day - once in the morning and once at night. Make sure you reach all surfaces of your teeth to remove dental plaque," says Professor Walmsley.

Plaque leads to gum disease and tooth decay.

"Plaque is a biofilm which is the home to countless bacteria, and when they get the upper hand it can cause irritation to gums and can make them bleed. If gums do bleed it's a reversible process but you still need to keep brushing your teeth and gums to get rid of any plaque," he adds.

"If you leave it alone and don't try to remove the plaque it may lead to periodontal disease, which as well as causing bad breath may lead to loss of bone and teeth falling out," warns Professor Walmsley.

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