5 Foods and Beverages That Help Kill Bad Breath

"I need an orange. Stat!"
"I need an orange. Stat!" / LaylaBird/iStock via Getty Images

The best way to combat the foul-smelling bacteria that likes to proliferate in your mouth is to do what your dentist has been telling you since you could talk: Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss daily—nothing you eat or drink can keep your mouth smelling fresh better than those good habits. But if your toothbrush isn't handy, try one of these five foods and drinks that might help stave off stale breath.

1. Parsley

Parsley has been touted as a natural halitosis remedy for ages, though there’s a conspicuous lack of scientific studies supporting the claim. That said, parsley does contain chlorophyll. Its antibacterial qualities may help cut down on the sulfur-producing microbes that contribute to bad breath.

2. Green Tea

According to at least a couple studies, the same polyphenols responsible for green tea’s antioxidant properties may also help rid your mouth of those lingering sulfur compounds. The effects only last temporarily, though.

3. Probiotic Yogurt

A more permanent way to reduce halitosis may be by making probiotic yogurt a part of your diet. A 2005 experiment found that the majority of participants who ate unsweetened, plain yogurt for six weeks had notably lower levels of sulfur compounds in their mouths—and less plaque, too—than those who didn’t.

4. Citrus Fruit

Vitamin C helps decrease (bad) bacteria in your mouth, so citrus fruit—and other vitamin C-rich foods, like berries, melon, and broccoli—make for a good halitosis-fighting snack. Vitamin C also prevents scurvy, in case you’re planning any long-term sea voyages in the near future.

5. Other Raw Fruits and Vegetables

Because raw, crunchy fruits and veggies prompt your mouth to produce a lot of saliva, they can help rinse away malodorous bacteria. They also help with hydration, which is an important part of keeping bad breath at bay.