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Expert Advice: Is My Toothpaste Actually Contributing to My Bad Breath?

Minty toothpaste isn't always best.


Most of the time, bad breath comes from the food we just ate. Whether you dug into an onion-y or garlic-y dish or had a hot cup of coffee, it’s natural to experience an unpleasant smell every now and then. What’s not normal: Chronic bad breath. If it’s accompanied by small white spots, it could be a sign of a fungal infection. To the rescue: our expert, Dr. Heather Moday, who answered one of our reader’s questions on bad breath this week. In fact, Dr. Moday thinks that regular minty toothpaste isn’t always the solution.

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Heather Moday, MD, is director of the Moday Center in Philadelphia. She is board-certified in allergy and immunology, as well as integrative and holistic medicine. You can follow her on Instagram (@theimmunitymd), where she shares information on health topics. To ask her a question here, send an email to

How To Treat Bad Breath

Q: The other day I noticed small white spots on my tongue and my breath was awful, so I saw my doctor. She diagnosed me with oral thrush and put me on antifungal medication, but is there anything I can do to freshen my breath while I wait for the infection to clear?

A: There is. Oral thrush is a condition in which Candida albicans, a type of yeast that’s found naturally in the body, accumulates on the lining of the mouth. Often, the yeast is accompanied by low saliva production, which allows odor-causing bacteria to grow. And although the antifungal treatment will clear up the oral thrush infection within a week or so, there are ways to help eliminate bad breath in the meantime. And you can use these strategies to keep your breath smelling fresh even after the thrush is gone.

First, I recommend swapping out your toothpaste for an herbal one that contains neem extract, like Dabur Herbal (Buy from Amazon, $6.39). The natural plant extract was shown to be more effective at killing candida and freshening breath than other toothpastes in certain studies. Neem also reduces plaque buildup and the risk of gingivitis.

Another way to freshen your breath: Rinse with baking soda, a strategy researchers say can slash the growth of bacteria. The reason? Baking soda kills germs to help your mouth maintain a healthy pH level. To do: Dissolve ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water. Swish in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit it out.

Finally, I recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. Staying hydrated can help you avoid dry mouth, a condition that disrupts the oral microbiome, allowing for bacteria that can worsen bad breath.

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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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