Scientists at the University of Illinois, Chicago have reported that drinking small amounts of green or black tea may help relieve bad breath. The catches are that the tea cannot be sweetened and it only reduces the odors that cause halitosis by one-third.
A pair of dental health experts at school's College of Dentistry found that oral bacteria exposed to the polyphenols found in certain teas grew slower and produced fewer volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), the molecules that largely account for the smell of oral odor. However, the bacteria produced just 30 percent fewer VSCs.
The study contains several caveats. The first is that the bacteria were not exposed to green or black tea, but polyphenols taken from tea. Drinking tea itself may produce a different reaction. Another factor to consider is that the microbes were exposed to these chemicals for a full 49 hours. Holding tea in the mouth - or at the very least, not brushing one's teeth - for two straight days is not very feasible.
Rather than drinking tea to cut halitosis by a third, individuals with bad breath may consider using a specialty breath freshening rinse that neutralizes VSCs and moistens the mouth.