Americans spent the estimated two billion dollars a year on products to mask Bad Breath.
In one survey, 34 percent of respondents said that bad breath made them hesitant to even speak to other people and another 12.6 percent said they avoided others altogether.
Even if you do not have severe halitosis, what people may not realize is that half of the adult population suffers from persistent bad breath.
Naturally existing germs in our mouth cause 90 to 95 percent of bad breath.
“Germs plus protein equal bad breath,” says Susanne Cohen, D.D.S. “When those germs metabolize, they produce a foul-smelling sulfur gas that smells kind of like rotten eggs.”
“When we sleep, we produce less saliva than when we are awake,” explains NYC-based dentist, Jennifer Jablow. “Saliva acts as a buffer to neutralize and wash away bacteria. With less of it, our mouth is dry and the acid level rises, leaving bacteria to produce foul smelling gasses.” That’s why we get morning breath.
Coffee Breath, does not come from the coffee itself. “If you think about it, coffee smells delicious,” Dr. Cohen explains. “Think about those commercials where people wake up with a smile just from the smell of coffee brewing! It is actually the sulfur gasses in your mouth combined with coffee that produces that disgusting odor.”
Certain foods do produce a bad odor (garlic and onions and other pungent foods). When garlic’s potent-smelling sulfur compounds are metabolized, they form methyl sulfide, which can not be digested. It is passed through the blood stream to the lungs and skin where it is excreted.
Dry mouth can actually cause foul breath.”When your mouth is not moisturized, you can have bad breath,” says Dr. Jablow. When you consistently have a dry mouth, it is called xerostomia. Many drugs such as anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressants, and even allergy medicines like antihistamines can also produce dry mouth and hence bad breath.
People with certain conditions like liver or kidney disease and diabetes tend to have bad breath. The build-up of wastes in the blood leads to a metallic taste in the mouth that produces the odor. Conditions like acid-reflux cause food to regurgitate to the esophagus which mix with bacteria and other enzymes to cause bad breath.
Dr. Cohen notes that a common myth is that the stomach causes most bad breath. Unless you have a health condition, there actually is not constant air-flow between your stomach and mouth.
“Mouthwashes containing alcohol mask breath for a very short time but dries out your mouth terribly,” says Dr. Jablow.
The Australian Dental Journal concluded that there is sufficient evidence that mouthwashes with alcohol increase your risk of developing oral cancer, a disease that kills roughly 8,000 Americans every year.
Dr. Cohen adds that those mouthwashes, which claim to kill almost 100 percent of germs, do not tell you that those germs also rapidly repopulate — within 30 to 60 minutes by most estimates causing just as bad “rebound” bad breath. In fact, in 2008, the Better Business Bureau concluded that no mouthwash is allowed to claim fresh breath for more than an hour.
How to get rid of it?
The one exception is SmartMouth, an alcohol-free mouthwash that breaks up the sulfur-producing process and kills germs to prevent bad breath for up to 12 hours, according to their claims.Dr. Cohen, who is also the CEO and co-founder of Triumph Pharmaceuticals, which makes SmartMouth, says that if you use the rinse in the morning and before bed, “you will literally wake up with fresh breath.”
Chewing fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme, and rosemary also helps to prevent bad odors after a smelly meal. Besides having a more favorable scent, the chlorophyll in the leaves helps neutralize pungent smells.
Drink more water to keep your breath moisturized.
Cheeses like mozzarella can even prevent bad breath since dairy products help to neutralize acidity.
Dr. Jablow says, “One of my favorite ingredients to prevent dry mouth is xylitol.It is a sugar substitute found in many gums and dental products that keep bacteria at bay and helps with saliva flow.”
Remember the basic oral hygiene: Brushing twice a day, flossing and visiting your dentist twice a year to remove plaque build up, all of which helps to remove bacteria from accumulating under your gum line, which causes bad breath.