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What are Breath Strips?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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Breath strips were created by the company Pfizer, which in 2000 developed Listerine Pocket Packs Breath Freshening Strips®. Claiming that the strips would do the work of a mouthwash in terms of freshening the breath, in a very short time, Pfizer quickly had a successful product. Their breath strips were released for sale in 2001, and by 2002 they had made over $250 million US Dollars (USD) on their product. Time Magazine called the product one of the best inventions of 2002.

Through a special formula, a small breath strip that is placed on the tongue nearly instantly dissolves. It creates extreme minty flavor as it does so, which does create fresher breath. Most of these strips, including Pfizer’s Listerine type are sugar free, so they won’t have a negative impact on oral health. In fact, Pfizer’s breath strips contain chemicals that help fight bacteria, and may actually improve oral health.

Due to their novelty, and the fast pace in the lives of many people, breath strips sold, and continue to sell well. Many other companies have developed their own brands, most promising and delivering fresh flavor to the mouth. Companies that had relied primarily on sugar free gum or mints to accomplish the work of a breath strip did see their profit margins slightly decrease as a result of Pfizer’s invention.

It should be noted that breath strips haven’t completely eclipsed gum and mints; some people chew gum because they enjoy doing so, and a breath strip is simply not going to satisfy the same requirements. Similarly, they aren’t quite as elegant as presenting mints to guests after dinner. Yet for those who want fresh breath quickly, they have become a first choice.

The dissolvability of the strips is not simply about fresh breath anymore. For some time now, medical researchers have worked on quick dissolve or instant dissolve medications. John Hopkins University researchers in 2007 finally created a process for instant drug delivery of a vaccine for rotavirus via tongue strips.

Rotavirus is of especial risk to young children and the elderly. It can cause days of diarrhea and vomiting, and children may become dehydrated quickly, requiring hospitalization. This new drug delivery system costs less money to store, ship and is very easy to administer. It adds to the hope that more children will get the vaccine and have some protection against a potentially life-threatening disease.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By fify — On Aug 13, 2011

I don't personally prefer breath strips. I have tried them several times and honestly, it was not the same as brushing my teeth or chewing gum. I always feel like my tongue is the only place in my mouth that gets freshened up and quite intensely because the breath strip sticks to it and melts there. I will only use it if I absolutely don't have access to a toothbrush or gum.

The oral vaccines in the form of breath strips on the other hand, are really an accomplishment. I have heard about rotavirus a lot, especially in developing countries. Lots of babies are infected and have severe diarrhea, possibly ending with death. To think that there is now a vaccine as easy as sucking a piece of candy is marvelous.

I read that babies need just two doses of it which they take by mouth and are protected against rotavirus. I can't even imagine how beneficial it will be for aid workers who travel to these countries with supplies. Regular vaccines are very sensitive to temperature and are hard to carry without breaking. Vaccine strips have to be the best invention ever, even more than breath strips.

By Speechie — On Aug 12, 2011

I have wondered this myself - and I never found a conclusive answer. I read a lot of anecdotal sources like on trucker sites that felt you might get a false positive read on a breathalyzer test if you used one right before taking the test but I also read that they do not contain any alcohol! Go figure.

Either way, I don't care, just thought it would be easy thing to find out! My favorite breath strips are the citrus orange ones though - I highly suggest them if you ever get tired of the green minty ones!

By aLFredo — On Aug 12, 2011

I did not know who invented these breath strips or were the first to come out with the breath strip, but I always loved the Listerine breath strips personally! They pack a seriously minty punch, but definitely do the trick in making your breath feel fresh!

With it being so concentrated on the strip though, I was curious - what is the alcohol content of the strips?

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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