Last Updated: October 11, 2017 | This Article May Contain Affiliate Links
why your breath freshener is failing you

Here’s Why Your Favorite Breath Freshener Is FAILING You

Having bad breath is incredibly embarrassing…trust me.

I realized I had bad breath in the worst possible way…

While I won’t rehash old war stories of high school, I will say that it can absolutely crush your confidence and worse…

…makes you overthink how long you have been going outside with a loaded stench cannon every time you utter a word or let out a sigh…

But here’s the deal gents:

By the end of this guide I promise you will learn the following:

  1. Why your current breath fresheners (gum, mints, strips) may be COMPLETELY useless
  2. What you can do to adopt a better hygiene regimen both at home or when at the office/school
  3. Stamp out bad breath from ever happening again
  4. Feel confident and never second guess your breath stank meter before going into a kiss

Alright so first things first:

Here’s why your current piece of Fruit Stripe (ahh…I hope you still aren’t using the same gum from 6th grade) is failing you today:

Does Sugar Cause Bad Breath?

Well, check this out:

If you put a spoonful of sugar into your mouth and smelled it a few seconds or minute later, chances are that you won’t see a sudden uptick in wretched breath.

Here’s why:

Sugar doesn’t cause bad breath….immediately.

However, what sugar does is this:

It creates the PERFECT environment for the anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that doesn’t require oxygen to thrive) that causes bad breath.

Just think about it for a minute:

Your mouth is a dark cave that is a lovely 98.6 degrees.  But not only is it nice and hot, it also is incredibly moist/swamp like.

This environment, when induced with sugar (i.e. a fuel for bacteria), it allows them to multiply at an exponential rate.

When these bacteria start to consume the sugar, you don’t notice much at first…

In fact, all you are smelling is going to be the flavor of the gum (i.e. cinnamon, mint, citrus, bubble, etc.).

However, once you spit out that piece of gum or swallow that mint, the smell from the bacteria is no longer being masked.  Instead, what starts to happen is that the bacteria will begin to emit a sulfur smell – which subsequently leaves your mouth and causes bad breath (halitosis).

…so what do you do?

You do what breath mint and gum manufacturers WANT you to do – load up another breath freshener to squash the smell.

Before you know it, you are out of breath fresheners, out of 2 bucks, and still have smelly breath!

In order to solve the bad breath ‘problem’ you need to get to the root of the issue:

Your oral hygiene practice:

brush three times daily

Are You Doing A Good Job With Your Oral Hygiene?

While we don’t want to come across as a parent teaching their three-year-old how to brush for the very first time (cause you don’t deserve that), however, we do want to hammer home a few important aspects about brushing really quick:

While brushing your teeth three times a day is optimal, most men, at best, can get away with twice daily.

But other than cavity protection, do you know the reason WHY you SHOULD brush your teeth three times daily?

Sure, bad breath is one…

But any other reasons?

To mimic your three meals a day!

When you brush your teeth, the bristles of your tooth brush play a key role in knocking out food that is trapped between your teeth and along your gum line.

When you leave crumbs and left over bits of food between your teeth for an extended period of time, you are giving our friend, anaerobic bacteria, more fuel for them to multiply and get that bad breath pumping out in full force as the food begins to decay.

But here’s the deal guys:

While you can brush until your gums bleed (which you shouldn’t), a tooth brush just simply isn’t the absolute best tool for knocking that food out of your mouth.

Instead you should be looking at either one of these options:

Dental floss or a water flosser.

While a water flosser ISN’T a replacement for dental floss, it acts as a terrific substitute for knocking even the most wedged in food between your teeth clean out (plus it works great if you had some prior dental work).

A water flosser acts as a good flush for your mouth and kind of a reset on your oral hygiene for the day.

With their sub $100 price tag, they are probably one of the best secret weapons you can add into your oral hygiene that will actually immediate positive results (i.e. helping to reduce the occurrence of bad breath).

By far the best option out there in the market place you can spend your money on will undoubtedly be the WP-660 by Waterpik (there’s a reason why this has over 9k reviews averaging 4.4 stars)…

…it works!

Now if investing some sort of fancy water flosser isn’t your cup of tea, the next best alternative is floss.

When you ask any guy, they will give you 100 reasons to NEVER floss (unless of course they have a dentist appointment booked within the next 7 days – then magically they floss daily).

Floss is the best tool to get in between those teeth to knock all that food clear out.

In fact, floss goes a bit further as well:

For fear of not being too boring or ‘sciencey’ here’s something REALLY important that you need to know:

When you eat food the bacteria are growing at an exponential rate.  As it grows, expands, and coat your mouth, it will also begin to form plaque on your teeth.

Plaque is essentially a thin sticky film of bacteria that coats your mouth (teeth and gums).  Plaque causes all sorts of problems including both tooth decay and gingivitis.

However, when plaque is left untreated, it can develop into tartar (a hardened form of plaque) that can only be removed with the special tools that dentists use.

Which all of this can cause cavities – not fun.

So, if your gums always bleed when you floss, then we would recommend that you check out a dental tape instead.  Dental tapes are flat (like scotch tape) as opposed to traditional flosses which are more rope-like.

Dental tape isn’t AS susceptible to fraying like standard floss, and most men love the results of this option.

Oh, and you can pick it up the next time you go grocery shopping, or via Amazon:

Those are the two key options for clearing out the food between your teeth.

But what about the bacteria that coats your tongue?

Then you will want to check out a tongue scraper.

best tongue scraper - review and guide to the top brands

Does A Tongue Scraper Help With Bad Breath?

While a tongue scraper may seem a little odd at first, this will make the largest difference when it comes to regularly fresh breath.

Tongue scrapers are cheap metal filaments that are used to scrape all the bacteria that is resting on the surface of your tongue.

A simple 15 second scrape on the tongue before you head out the door in the morning will do better than all the breath fresheners you consume through the entire day….


Yeah, its seriously that good.

So, if you don’t mind plunking down less than $10 for fresh breath daily without having to resort to gum, mints, or strips, then while checking picking up the floss we recommended above, we would strongly suggest you pick up a tongue scraper:

So, where does this leave us?

If eliminating bad breath altogether along with adopting decent dental hygiene is important to you, then you will want to follow the above info.

It can do a wonder on freshening your breath sans breath fresheners.

But if you still need to get your daily fix of fresheners then you will want to keep these tips in mind:

The Sugars You Need To Be Aware Of When Shopping For Breath Fresheners

I swear, within the past 10 years we have seen more and more sugar substitutes pop up on the market at a dizzying pace.

You didn’t have to look far for companies that claimed their product was ‘Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar’ (source).

With ingredients like sorbitol, sucralose, stevia, aspartame, and so many others, which are a safe bet when picking up a piece of gum or a pack of mints?

When you cut through all the complications, its largely considered better to go with a gum or mint that is labeled as ‘sugar free’ or is absent of your traditional tabletop sugar.

However, even if a sugar free gum relies on a synthetic sugar compound to deliver the sweet taste, bacteria are still going to thrive on the ingredients within.

Beyond sugars, there is another important aspect to consider – the flavor:

Best Flavor Breath Freshener To Eliminate or Reduce Bad Breath

When looking at a particular flavor of mint or gum, you are often met with a few options including cinnamon, bubble gum, mint, citrus, along with some other flavors as well.

But you got to ask yourself this question:

Does flavor have anything to do with eliminating bad breath?

In short – yes.

When looking at the flavors, your best bet is to go with cinnamon (this is assuming that its naturally flavored as opposed to being flavored artificially).

Cinnamon in its natural state is an antibacterial agent.

Therefore, those anaerobic bacteria that are thriving in your mouth will need to fight against the antibacterial properties of cinnamon.

Mint on the other hand isn’t antibacterial, but works in another unique way.  When sticking a mint based (again naturally flavored) breath freshener into your mouth, the mint will help to get your saliva flowing.

While you may think that this might be bad (after all it gives the bacteria more liquid to play in), it works just the opposite.

Increased saliva will help to flush out the bacteria helping to reduce the occurrence of bad breath.

Lastly, citrus is another great flavor to go with, but probably the least effective compared to cinnamon and mint based fresheners.

Citrus acts like mint in generating saliva, but doesn’t feature nearly the same antibacterial properties found in cinnamon.

But what about berry and bubble gum flavor?

These are more often than not, synthetic flavors and won’t evoke the same effects as the others outlined above.

You are best to avoid these if you are looking to reduce bad breath.


Gums vs. Mints vs. Strips – Which Breath Freshener Should You Go With?

While much of this largely boils down to personal preferences, here is the general consensus on which breath freshener will work best for your mouth:


While gum is easily accessible, compact enough to fit in your pocket so it’s always at the ready, we generally recommend that men to go against this option – especially if you are in either an intimate (i.e. out for an evening date) or formal/work setting.

Some folks are simply turned off from the sight of another person chewing gum (especially if chewing with your mouth open – manners people!!!).

But beyond the fear of looking like a cow chewing on cud, gum doesn’t dissolve or shouldn’t be swallowed.  Therefore, you always have to find the nearest trash can or wrapper in order to get rid of it – not great if you are about to lock lips with that special someone and you have to find a garbage can – buzzkill man!


Breath strips are a great freshener for men with REALLY bad breath.  The reason why is that they dissolve almost instantly, are only placed on your tongue, and have a low sugar count.

This will ensure that your breath stays fresher for longer without having to reload as often.

Of course, if you have ever used strips before, you will know the down fall of them – application.

If your hands are in the least bit damp, you may have a hard time trying to pull them out of the packaging quickly.

But kudos to their extremely small form factor (one of the smallest options you can buy).

If you are serious about your breath – go with this option.


Ahhh mints.

From Tic Tacs to Altoids and everything in between, mints have been around for years.  While the history of the mint isn’t in the least bit important to this article (invented by the Egyptians in 3000 B.C. if you must know), mints are a great discrete way to pop in a freshener when you are in a pinch.

Coming in small form factors that rival breath strips, mints are an excellent choice to use between you have a big meeting or plan on going to first base with someone.

Their fast dissolving nature won’t suffer the same setbacks found in a stick of gum.

Given that mints coat your entire mouth like a stick of gum (whereas a strip just rests on your tongue), you are likely going to have to reload often to keep bad breath at bay due to the sugar (synthetic or otherwise).

Lastly, if you don’t want a jingle-jangle when you walk then its best to skip mints and go with the strips instead.

Should You Go Homemade?

I dunno about you guys, but it seems like everyone is on the ‘homemade’ train lately.

But when it comes to a breath freshener, I like to follow the simple method of going to the corner store or simply hit ‘Buy Now’ on Amazon and get a bulk pack sent straight to my door.

Sure, there are plenty of great tutorials online to making a breath freshener if you are into the holistic natural thing.

Here’s one that looks like a pretty legit recipe by Modern Outdoor Dweller:

Why You Should Have Fresh Breath


I spend most of my time inside in front of computer not talking to anyone.

However, if there is anything that holds true it’s this:

First impressions count.

So, even if you’re chatting it up with the cashier at the local grocery store, talking to a co-worker, or simply your spouse.

Do them all a favor and pop a mint or a strip.

But beyond that, be sure to get your oral care regimen on point.

This way you can talk to whomever without ever having to worry about the stench level of your breath.

Shawn Burns | @toolsofmen

Hi, I’m Shawn! A beard and shave enthusiast! I am an aspiring writer that wants to give guys great tips on how to pick up better grooming habits! From beard oil to using a double edge safety razor (yes I do get rid of my beard every now and again), I wanted to create this site where readers can get great information about men’s grooming.

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