What’s The Best Mouthwash For Bad Breath? 

Combating Halitosis (Bad Breath) is not as simple as using a mouthwash each day. You need to focus on cleaning your teeth, your tongue and rising your mouth with a decent mouthwash to pro-long the effect in your mouth and not to simply cure it. We have discussed how to clean your teeth here, your tongue here but in this section we’re looking at the best mouthwashes to really clean your mouth. 

Rather than just pick a few companies websites, look at what they say it the best mouthwash and pick one, we’re going to do things slightly differently and start by looking at what ingredients you actually need to combat bad breath, and then which mouthwash is the best based on the ingredients they contain which have been medical proved to treat halitosis (Bad Breath).

What I would say, the best mouthwash for bad breath is typically not the one with the highest concentration of one specific compound, and not the most well known on the market, but the one that contains a combination on ingredients to combat bad breath from different angles.

What Are We Looking For In The Best Mouthwash

The best mouthwash does not need to be able to remove bacteria from the mouth as we have already done that through brushing teeth and scraping the tongue. What it needs to do is keep the bacteria from forming again.  

If you want to stop bad breath you need to focus reducing the concentration of bacteria in your mouth as it’s this bacteria that lives off your tongue creating volatile sulfur compounds as a by product which is where the smell comes from in bad breath.  You need to focus on mouthwash that contains the following:

Anti-bacterial Agents – It’s the anaerobic bacteria living on your tongue that creates the oder cause in bad breath. The best mouthwash will contain antibacterial agents such as antibacterials chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride and/or triclosan which have been designed to kill and stop the spread of bacteria living on your tongue.

VSC’s (volatile sulfur compounds) – are waste product from the bacteria that lives on your tongue. Mouthwash that contains Chlorine dioxide (sodium chlorite) and zinc compounds effectively stop any remaining bacteria on your tongue from Fermenting and producing the terrible smell of halitosis. 

What’s The Best Mouthwash?

Generally the best mouthwashes to stop halitosis are those that do not take a direct approach and focus on one specific area, but those that take the combination approach. This means that users need to select a mouthwash that contains both Antibacterial and VSC ingredients

How To Use Mouthwash?

Mouthwash needs to be used after you have rinsed your mouth, brushed your teeth, flossed and scraped your tongue as it’s difficult for a mouthwash to penetrate plaque that has built up around your teeth or bacteria on your ton.

If you have brushed your teeth flossed your gums and scraped your tongue and plaque and bacteria build up will be reduced and what ever remains will be exposed and therefore more vulnerable to mouthwash that and the chemicals within it.

It’s also a great idea to gargle making an “AAAHHH” sound as this will encourage the tongue to be extended outwards meaning the mouthwash can have great contact with the base of the tongue where the majority of bacteria forms.

Please note, all mouthwash should be spat out after use, however don’t worry about washing your mouth out.

Other Ways to reduce Halatosis

Besides using mouthwash, studies have shown that taking a combination approach to combating Halitosis has the most effect. This means focusing on using the following:

Toothpaste – with tricolsan or stannous fluoride to reduce bacteria growing in your mouth (Colgate Total)

Breath mints – that contain volatile sulfur compounds such as chlorine dioxide, sodium chlorite, and zinc. Breath mints and lozenges will also help to stimulate saliva which helps to neutralise the smelyy volatile soulful compounds that cause bad breath.

Gum – Very similar to the reason above. The action of chewing creates silva which will helps to wash away VSC, however make sure its a sugar-free chewing gum otherwise you may see a short-term benefit, but long term, the sugar within the gum just adds fuel to the bacteria growing in your mouth.

How to Clean Your Tongue Without Gagging

Bad breath has long been associated with dirty teeth and your tongue. Whilst cleaning your teeth is actually very easy, cleaning your tongue can be a frustrating experience especially if you have a strong gag reflex too anything going near the back of your throat.

Like everything in the human body, everybody is different. Some people have a minor gag reflex meaning they can poke around in their mouth without a problem, whilst for others, it can be a difficult experience.

What Causes You To Gag?

The pharyngeal reflex (Gag Reflex) has a very important role and effectively stop you choking when something hits the back of your throat. In the most extreme cases, this reflex quickly causes vomiting to help extract any foreign objects from within your throat.

Your pharyngeal reflex is important when your a baby as it stops foods and liquids from entering your windpipe when the muscles around this area have not developed fully enough to be able to control the separation between air to your lungs and food to your stomach. Quite why this reflex does not completely disappear with age is still a mystery, however the good news is that your gag reflex is not fixed and it’s still very possible to desensitize the back of your throat to ensure that you can effectively clean your tongue.

Why Do You Need To Clean Your Tongue?

Cleaning your tongue is a very important part of your daily hygiene and will help to keep your mouth fresh, stop any infections from forming or developing and can improve your sense of taste allowing you to enjoy food.

Halitosis (Bad Breath) is cause my two things, plague building up on your teeth, and residues building up on your tongue. In this section we’re focusing on the residues building up on your tongue, however if you want to know how to clean your teeth click here.

Studies have shown that patients that use a tongue scraper twice a day for three weeks, reduces the bacterial sulphur compounds by 75%. It’s these bacterial compounds found on the tongue that cause bad breath. In another more recent study, researchers found that after a month of cleaning your tongue twice a day using a tongue scraper, people found that their sense of taste increased as well.

Check out this review where we look at the Best Tongue Scrapers to use at home


Before we start looking at the process for cleaning your tongue, we need to think about desensitizing your mouth to stop the gag relax from making us vomit.

The process is very simply given that all we’re trying to do is get out tongue used object being close to and therefore reducing the gag effect.

The Process

  1. Take Your Toothbrush and run it under the tap for a couple of seconds
  2. Stick your tongue out as far as you can whilst pressing it down on top of your lower set of teeth
  3. Using the back side of your tooth brush, slowly start to rub your tongue in a left-to-right motion starting from the tip and heading into your mouth
  4. Once you feel that twinge where you gag reflex starts to kick into to action, focus on spending the first couple of session in that area. It important that you don’t try and push the limit initially, but get your tongue used to this foreign object being so close
  5. Slowly rub this area for 10 seconds and then stop. Try repeating this three times at least twice a day
  6. Over time you will notice that you will be able to move the brush further and further into your mouth as the your reflex starts to desensitize.

Use A Tongue Scraper

Using your toothbrush is a great way to desensitise your gag reflex, but i would highly recommend that you don’t use it to clean your tongue. Firstly, it really not a good idea to clean your tongue and then use the same tooth brush to clean your teeth. It’s not something that is scientifically proven, but I would worry that you’re simply transferring bacteria from your tongue, onto your teeth.

I better idea is to get yourself a tongue scraper that has been designed to effectively clean your tongue. We have discussed the best tongue scrapers on the market here, however the key benefit of a tongue scraper apart from the reason above is that they have a much lower profile and therefore tend to reduce the gagging reflex because their is more distance between the scraper and the roof of your mouth.

Research by Outhouse in 2008 showed that when compared with simply brushing your tongue, tongue scraper showed a significant benefit to simply brushing your tongue with your regular toothbrush.

How To Clean Your Tongue Without Gagging?

As i have mentioned before on this website, I am not a dental expert and therefore i have referred back to tried and tested methods from the dental professionals for this process. The preferred strategy for cleaning your tongue is a follows;

  1. Stick your tongue out as far as possible and press it down onto the top of your lower lip or teeth.
  2. Inspect your tongue and look for the areas of discoloration. A healthy tongue should be the same colour as your gums, a reddish pink colour meaning that any grey or white discoloration is the bacteria that you’re looking to remove.
  3. Take your tongue scraper and press it gently down on to your tongue. Pull the scraper towards you being careful that you don’t press to hard so that you risk damaging your tongue.
  4. Repeat this step 3-6 times until this area is clean. Be careful not to push the scraper too far into the back of your mouth otherwise you will find your gag reflex starts to kick in.
  5. Finish off by washing the scraper under the tap and washing your mouth with a decent anti-bacterial mouthwash to kill off any bacteria that remains and stop it coming back.

Follow Up

Cleaning you tongue is not a difficult or time consuming process and should take you no longer than a couple of minutes. If you repeat this process daily for a few weeks, you will see noticeable differences in the freshness of your mouth and breath. Bartold 2016