Bad breath or halitosis can be embarrassing and hamper your confidence. Whether they are caused by dry mouth, periodontal diseases or the medicines you take, breath mints and gums are one of the popular choices to help with bad breath.
Some of them simply mask bad breath while others work all day to keep halitosis at bay.
This article will help you to make an informed choice about breath mints and gums that are likely to work for you.
How do mints or gums work on bad breath?
The science behind using breath fresheners like mints or chewing gums is simple. When you suck or chew them, it increases the production of saliva. (1)
An increased salivary level washes your mouth and teeth thus reducing the odor-causing bacteria.
At the same time, the minty flavor of your gums or mints helps to mask the odor.
What are they made of?
It is important for you to know the different ingredients present in your breath fresheners. Let’s have a look at them one by one.
The primary ingredient present in mints is sugar. Sugar is present in the form of sucrose or dextrose and the most common sugar substitutes are sorbitol or zilotrol.
Another ingredient which is present in them is gelatin, a protein that feeds the bacteria in the mouth. (2)
Binders like corn syrup and natural gums are used to hold the ingredients together.
Ingredients can vary depending on the various brand, but all gums have the following essential ingredients.
- Gum: It is the non-digestible, rubbery base used to make the gum chewy.
- Resin: It is added to strengthen gum and hold it together.
- Fillers: Such as calcium carbonate, gives texture to the gum.
- Preservatives: They are added to extend shelf life. A popular choice for preservation is an organic compound called butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). (4)
- Softeners: They retain moisture and keep the gum soft. They can include waxes like vegetable oils or paraffin.
- Sweeteners: Cane sugar, beet sugar, and corn syrup are some popular ones. Sugar-free gums use sugar alcohols like xylitol or artificial sweeteners like aspartame. (5)
- Flavorings: Added to give the desired flavor. They can be natural or synthetic.
Should you choose mint or gum?
Both mints and gums are good for bad breath, but you must aim for products that contain natural sweetness such as xylitol which also has anti-cariogenic properties. (6)
An oxidizing agent such as zinc gluconate is a useful addition because it blocks odor receptors from binding with the amino acids to produce sulfur compounds. (7)
As per the ADA, If you chew sugarless gum after eating, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize the acids produced by the plaque on your teeth.
It can be considered inconsiderate or rude to be chewing gum in circumstances such as in the classroom or during meetings. Many gums lose their flavor quickly, leaving you to look for another one.
Like gum, mints certainly do a better job of treating bad breath. Their flavors tend to last longer than gum. It is also usually more socially acceptable to suck on a mint.
If you’ve had a history of temporomandibular joint problems, then sugar-free mints would be a better choice.
How to avoid bad breath?
Other than using breath mints or gums, you should aim to treat bad breath for the long term. The following methods can be adapted to prevent bad breath from creeping up again in your mouth.
- Keep your tongue clean – you must use a tongue scraper or toothbrush and clean your tongue to remove the bacteria causing halitosis.
- Therapeutic mouth rinses – Oxygenated mouthwashes dislodge and kill bacteria present in your oral cavity especially in inaccessible areas such as embrasure of teeth and tonsil region.
- Stay hydrated – Dehydration reduces your saliva production which creates an environment for bacteria to flourish in your mouth. Hydration of the body keeps saliva levels intact.
- Use of natural fresheners – You can chew some fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley and mint leaves that helps you to combat bad breath in place of mint candies and gums.
- Eat healthy – High sugar food increases bacteria production. You must follow a diet which increases saliva production, keeping your oral cavity healthy.
- Flossing – it is essential as they help to remove plaque from areas where your toothbrush cannot reach. You must follow a routine of brushing and flossing together to maintain proper hygiene.
- Dental appointments – Your doctor can help you to rule out the root cause of bad breath, especially if it is related to an underlying medical condition.
The most reliable method for preventing bad breath remains a good oral hygiene routine.
You must avoid sugar-containing gums or mints. Sugars can contribute to tooth decay by acting as a food source for bacteria in your mouth.
Both gums and mints increase saliva production, but sugar-free gum will produce high levels of saliva when compared to breath mints.
You must avoid chewing your gum for a long time since it increases the risk of excessive tooth wear and muscle soreness.
You must address the issue of bad breath if it is consistent and chronic as they can be a cause of an underlying problem.
Following a healthy diet and maintaining proper oral hygiene will keep your bad breath at bay.