National Fresh Breath Day: Battle of the Breath Fresheners

Stinky breath? Find out which breath freshener works best: mints, gum, mouthwash or toothpaste.

Stinky breath? Find out which breath freshener works best: mints, gum, mouthwash or toothpaste. Photo courtesy of Nomadic Lass via CC license.

You know that moment when you’re talking to someone and, while you can hear him/her speaking, all you can focus on is the unpleasant stench wafting through the air?

Bad breath – aka halitosis – is a common oral hygiene condition in which one’s mouth emits an unpleasant odor. An estimated 80 million people suffer from chronic halitosis, which while not harmful, can cause embarrassment and self-consciousness.

Avoiding the stigma associated with chronic bad breath is a must in today’s society. That’s why it’s not surprising that U.S. sales of gum, mints and breath fresheners totaled $3.7 billion in 2012—making manufacturing breath-freshening products a very lucrative business.

With so many different types of breath fresheners on the market, how is the occasional halitosis sufferer supposed to choose the best product to ensure a minty clean mouth?

Delta Dental of Arizona conducted a high-level (not so high level), scientific (not very scientific), multi-person (okay, just me) experiment to help you find the best way to battle a foul-smelling mouth!

Products Tested

  • Sugar-free spearmint gum
  • Original mint mouthwash
  • Spearmint mints
  • Mint-flavored toothpaste


  • Mints – Strong flavored mints freshened my breath in an instant but dissolved in my mouth after 20 minutes. Mints are best used as a short-term cover up in anticipation of a conversation after your morning coffee or mid-day snack.
  • Sugar-free gum – Feel free to chew gum for as long as you like, but freshness only lasts about an hour and the flavoring wanes after 45 minutes. Sugar-free gum is best used to get rid of a bad taste or large food particles after eating.
  • Mouthwash – I swished mint mouthwash for 30 seconds and had fresh breath for close to 2 hours. Mouthwash is good choice for cleaning any particles of food left in mouth after eating or if you want extended freshness in the afternoon.
  • Mint-flavored toothpaste – I brushed my teeth with mint-flavored, fluoridated toothpaste for the recommended 2 minutes and the fresh taste lasted almost 4 hours. The toothpaste not only freshened my breath and cleaned my teeth, but also protected my teeth from the bacteria and decay that causes bad breath.

After conducting my not-so-scientific research, it is my recommendation that only a toothbrush and toothpaste will give you the absolute freshest breath. The other products give a brief period of freshness, but fade too quickly! While mouthwash, mints and gum each have their benefits, keep a twice-daily regimen of brushing and flossing if you want to nip the cause of your halitosis in the bud.

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