Many people like to take a breath mint to improve the smell of their breath. It seems like a good idea. It tastes sweet and produces a nice smell.
The problem with these mints is that they usually contain sugar, which makes them counter-productive. Let me explain.
Bad breath, or halitosis, is almost always caused by bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria feed on the things you eat and produce smelly waste products. So when you take a mint with sugar in it, you may temporarily cover up the vile smell, but you are actually feeding these bacteria and making the smell worse.
The mints are popular because it’s hard for people to smell their own mouth odor. You’re used to the smell your mouth produces, and don’t notice the bad smell. But when you take a breath mint with a nice smell to it, you notice that, and the sweet taste in your mouth helps in creating the feeling that your breath smells fine. So these mints create the illusion of making your mouth smell better.
Besides this, the sugar causes an acid attack on your teeth, promoting tooth decay.
Clinical quality mints, such as those that are sold by Dr. Katz’s TheraBreath company, and those sold by TriOral and BreathRx, which also often advertise here, are made without sugar, to avoid this effect. Dr. Katz’s ZOX breath fresheners have xylitol, which is a non-sugar sweetener that doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria. It neutralizes the volatile sulfur compounds that are the smelly substances in most mouth odor. It also stimulates the flow of saliva. The manufacturer claims it will eliminate bad breath and taste for hours, and it may well do that. I have posted links that will take you to places where you can buy legitimated bad breath products. Click this link and scroll to the bottom of the page to find those.
There are also chewing gums and rinses that have bacteria-fighting and volatile sulfur-neutralizing chemicals in them that will help fight mouth odor. There are also mouthwashes and other products provided by some of the sponsors of this page, listed on the right. Many of them actually work quite well, because they target the bacteria that cause halitosis and they also have odor-fighting chemicals in them. Check them out by clicking the links.
Most over-the-counter breath mints will help your mouth smell better for maybe ten minutes, after which it will actually smell worse.
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This content was written by Dr. David Hall.