Breath Fresheners

Friday, 29 May 2009 | Tags: , , ,

A major social faux pas, bad breath has spurred a multi-billion dollar industry that even outsells toothpaste. But do these products really work? We put some breath fresheners to the test against a hefty dose of garlic and coffee.

The Basics

  • Breath products available on the market these days range from gum, mints, sprays, mouthwash, oral care strips and more, most of which are under about $3. Many oral hygiene products like toothpaste and mouthwash are also available in travel sizes.

  • Bad breath is a result of bacteria build-up in the mouth, mainly on the tongue.

  • For real bacteria-fighting tools, consider these in travel-size:

    • Toothpaste, brush and floss. Use immediately after meals.

    • Mouthwash that is antiseptic and contains no alcohol.

    • A tongue scraper further prevents bacterial build-up, prevents gum disease, and prevents plaque from building up on your teeth. Focus on the back of your tongue.

    • Look for products that contain eucalyptus and zinc. Zinc is the most effective neutralizing agent.

  • For many people, bad breath is just temporary. If you think you have a more serious case, in which there’s an increase of bacteria (medically referred to as halimetry), see a doctor to be tested.

  • Natural breath-freshening products used around the world include anise seeds, guava peels, parsley, cinnamon and clove. But as with most commercial fresheners, they only mask the odour rather than killing the bacteria.


We invited some testers to brush their teeth and then enjoy a Caesar salad lunch, washed down with coffee. Then we gave them breath fresheners and smelled their breath. (The things we do for research!)

We tested: .  
  • Scope (mouthwash)
. . Well.ca Drugstore.com
  • Binaca (spray)
. . Amazon.ca
  • Listerine Strips
. . Well.ca Drugstore.comicon
  • Clorets (gum)
. . Well.ca  
  • Altoids (mints)
. . Well.ca Drugstore.comicon

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Fresh Breath Test

  • After 10 minutes, we found the Scope worked the best.

  • After 20 minutes, the winner was Scope again, with the Listerine Strips coming in second.


If it’s inconvenient to brush your teeth (and tongue), the best defense against bad breath bacteria, keep a pocket-sized bottle of Scope handy.



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