Over a thousand kinds of bacteria reside in the average mouth. Some help protect your teeth and gums, while some produce smelly gases as they digest the tiny food particles lodged between your teeth and on your tongue. Some of the most offensive gases produced by mouth bacteria are sulfur compounds, which are made during the breakdown of proteins. A proper oral-hygiene routine, which includes brushing, flossing, rinsing, tongue cleansing and regular visits to the dentist, is an important first step but do you know you can also eat your way to a clean mouth with certain foods? Here are five foods that help with your oral hygiene:
1. Tea: Tea is one key to tea-rific breath. Studies suggest that drinking unsweetened black or green tea may help prevent bad breath. Both types of tea contain antioxidants called polyphenols that can help deter the growth of bacteria that cause bad breath—although green tea is more effective because it is processed in a different way. A study conducted at Pace University, for example, found that green tea extracts were efficient at warding off several types of oral bacteria by preventing their growth.
2. Probiotic Yoghurt: Recent studies show that eating 6 ounces of unsweetened yogurt every day can reduce the level of odor-causing hydrogen sulfide in your mouth which is a waste product from anaerobic bacteria. The reason is that live and active cultures in yogurt, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, compete with the bacteria in your mouth that contribute to bad breath. Avoid varieties with added sugars. (Sugars give room for bacterial growth in the body and especially the mouth.)
3. Water: A dry mouth can make your breath very unbearable. Most odour-causing bacteria are anaerobic, meaning they thrive in a dry mouth. Therefore, drinking water helps flush out leftover bits of food and bacteria stuck in your mouth. Drinking water also promotes the production of saliva, which acts as a cleansing agent.
4. Apples and Carrots: it’s mostly soft and sticky foods that get trapped on your teeth, causing bacteria buildup and bad odours. Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots increase the flow of cleansing saliva and scrub your teeth as you eat helping to strip away the leftover from your lunch stuck in your mouth.
5. Sugarless Candies and Gums: Any snack that increases saliva flow in your mouth, like sugar-free candy or gum, will help reduce odour in your mouth. What flavour should you go for? Mint may temporarily mask a bad smell. Cinnamon, on the other hand, may actually help to stop it at the source. The plant essential oil that’s often used for flavouring cinnamon gums and candies, known as cinnamic aldehyde, can cut down odour-causing bacteria.