Many people are frequent consumers of chewing gum and bad breath is one of the reasons why. There are innumerable variations on mint flavored chewing gum, all designed to make your breath smell minty and fresh, not to mention cinnamon flavor, and fruit flavors. There are some brands of popular chewing gum specifically marketed for halitoisis, but any gum will do in a pinch. North Americans spend millions of dollars on gum every year because we prefer its taste to the taste of our mouths.
Chewing gum and bad breath is sometimes a winning combination, especially if the halitosis is caused by a food. We all know that having garlic with lunch will make one an outcast for the rest of the day – unless everyone else around shared the meal. Gum will certainly help mute garlic breath. Odors on the breath due to other foods are even more easily masked, and the good news is that the condition is temporary in any case. It’s a good idea to carry some gum for those times when you need a quick and temporary fix.
But all cases of halitosis are not created equal: when the air that comes out of your mouth smells rotten all the time and it has nothing to do with food, you can load up the chewing gum and bad breath won’t budge. The strongest mint gum will only cover up the problem for a minute or two, and even a dedicated routine of oral cleaning doesn’t seem to make much difference. In these cases, you need a halitosis product that’s going to act on the source of the odor.
In most cases that rotten odor is coming from the back of the mouth, specifically the back of the tongue. There, bacteria are breaking down proteins and releasing sulfur compounds that smell foul. Breath mints, chewing gum and bad breath products purchased in pharmacies and food stores usually do not attack these bacteria, although some are medicated and there are new products appearing on the market that claim to do just that.
What is needed is a product that will reduce the number of offensive bacteria living at the back of the tongue, not just cover up the odor for a few minutes. Consumers can purchase mouthwashes with antibacterial ingredients, mouthwashes that contain oils that pick up the bacteria and physically carry them off, and products that deliver oxygen to destroy anaerobic odor producing bacteria (bacteria that can’t live in the presence of oxygen). All of these approaches have promise. There are even some product lines that include chewing gum and bad breath mints that are designed to combat the bacteria while they freshen the breath.
It’s about time.
R. Drysdale is a freelance writer with more than 25 years experience as a health care professional. She is a contributing editor to Chewing Gum and Bad Breath, a blog dedicated to the treatment of bad breath.
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