The validity of mouthwash, gum, mints, and breath sprays as cures for bad breath.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath, or halitosis, is most often caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth. While some bacteria in the mouth is normal, an excess of it can occur from the decay of food particles or other debris trapped under the tongue or between teeth. These bacteria cause an overabundance of a sulfur compound to build up in the mouth. In case you don’t remember from science class, sulfur is the element that smells like rotten eggs. This is where the odor originates.
How do we alleviate bad breath?
In order to rid yourself of bad breath, you must treat the source. That is, you must remove the built-up bacteria from your mouth and take steps to keep it in check. Regular brushing is vital in the prevention of bad breath. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably before bed and in the morning.
While brushing may remove many food particles and debris from your mouth, brushing alone is not enough. Quite often, toothbrush bristles cannot free what’s trapped between teeth. Flossing regularly increases the amount of bacteria-feeding decay you can remove from your mouth.
Proper brushing does not mean just cleaning the teeth. To remove the most germs, you must gently brush your entire mouth, including the roof of your mouth and the inside of your cheeks. Thoroughly cleaning any mouthpieces, such as dentures, retainers, or mouth guards, should also be a part of your brushing routine. Most importantly, clean your tongue!
There are a variety of tongue-scrapers on the market today. A tongue-scraper is a plastic device designed to pull the slimy, goopy germs from your tongue. You simply place it on the back of your tongue and gently, but firmly, slide the piece forward along the tongue. If you’ve done it correctly, there should be a yellowish-white slime on the scraper. Clean your scraper thoroughly after each use!
If you don’t have a tongue-scraper and don’t want to buy one, you can still clean your tongue effectively. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your tongue clean. You may also use a clean washcloth moistened with antibacterial mouthwash to remove build-up from your tongue.
So is mouthwash important?
You can remove even more debris than brushing and flossing alone if you use an antibacterial mouthwash, such as Listerine®. There are also mouthwashes on the market that contain oxidizing agents to eliminate the excess sulfur. Many of these oxidizing mouthwashes are two-part mouthwashes. The second rinse solution helps prevent new sulfur compounds from forming.
Gargling with peroxide is also helpful.
Are breath sprays and mints effective against bad breath?
Generally, mints and breath sprays are only temporary fixes because they treat the symptom (the odor) and not the source (the bacteria). The fresh-minty flavor covers up the odor for a short duration. Once the mint is gone, the flavor starts to dissipate, and all you have now is more debris in your mouth to feed the bacteria.
Although you may feel a burning sensation in your mouth, it is not the result of a bacteria-massacre. In reality, it is your own cells that are in pain. Ordinary sprays and mints are incapable of killing the bacteria in your mouth.
What about chewing gum?
Sugar-free chewing gum does help control the odor because it stimulates saliva production. Saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria in your mouth.
Are there any home remedies for bad breath?
Chewing parsley is a common practice for relieving mouth odor. This a great piece of information to have if you are out to dinner and have bad breath. You’re garnish can be your lifesaver! You can also try chewing on clove, fennel, or anise seeds.
There are several essential oils that can be used as an antibacterial agent in the mouth, such as clove, eucalyptus, cinnamon, oregano, and mint. These oils can even be used to make homemade mouthwash!
Although most cases of halitosis are caused by bacteria build-up in the mouth, bad breath can also be caused by certain foods, such as onion or garlic. These odors reside in the stomach and blood, and will fade away on their own in time. Smoking can also cause bad breath that is harder to get rid of. (Scraping the very back of the tongue can help tremendously when smoking is the culprit.)
Most importantly, bad breath can be caused by disease. If after trying all possible remedies you are still plagued by bad breath, it may be in your best interest to consult your dentist and your physician to determine if the problem is a serious health issue.