Ever have this happen? “When I took my granddaughter on my lap to read a story, she wiggled off and told me my breath smelled bad! Then she wouldn’t come near me for the rest of the afternoon,” one grandparent told us. Yeah, it can happen. Kids aren’t known for their tact, but sometimes you have to listen to the little oracles. Are you missing out on some hugs and squeezes due to bad breath? Here’s how to freshen up >>
Eating stinky food such as garlic, onion, or dairy products can cause the problem. When you eat foods like this, particles left in the mouth or between teeth will break down and smell. If saliva doesn’t wash it away, it can be remedied easily with brushing and flossing. More often, the smell comes from when food breaks down in the stomach. Sulfur-containing molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream and lungs, and escape through exhaled air and perspiration.
How to Fix It? >>
If you've got occasional bad breath, time will take care of the odor, but to help the process:
• Eat fresh parsley or caraway seeds which can neutralize garlic breath.
• While all mouthwashes will mask smells, mouthwashes with zinc chloride and chlorine dioxide also neutralize food smell.
• Eating mint or chewing sugarless gum will mask the odor temporarily.
• If you wear any sort of mouth appliance, make sure you clean it twice daily.
Dry mouth is caused by alcohol, tobacco, or medications such as antihistamines, anti-depressants, blood pressure medications, and diuretics. (Although not a drug, coffee is considered a diuretic.) Dryness also can be caused by mouth-breathing, due to habit, enlarged adenoids, or a stuffy nose. The dryness causes bacterial growth on the tongue that breaks down proteins into bad-smelling sulfur compounds. “The mouth needs saliva to flush out the bacteria. Without it, the bacteria thrive,” explains Violet I. Haraszthy D.D.S., Ph.D., associate professor, oral biology and restorative dentistry, University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.
How to Fix It? >>
Besides the obvious—brush and use mouthwash often—try these to cure dry mouth:
• Cut back on cigarette smoking, coffee and alcohol consumption. Don’t even use a mouthwash that has alcohol in—alcohol dries your mouth.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Chew sugarless gum or suck hard candy which can stimulate saliva production.
• Use a humidifier in your bedroom to combat dryness.
Halitosis, or chronic bad breath, is caused by bacteria. Some people host more bacteria in their mouth because of especially deep tongue papillae, the tiny little tubes on the top of your tongue.
Other causes of chronic bad breath? Gum disease which is an infection of oral tissue and bone that can create bad breath when bacteria-filled plaque builds up on teeth. Underlying disease such as diabetes, lung or kidney problems, or gastrointestinal problems are also known to cause halitosis.
How to Fix It? >>
Have chronic bad breath? Try these:
• Get a tongue-scraper and a toothbrush such as Colgate 360 that cleans your cheek and tongue as well as your teeth.
• Try an antibacterial mouthwash. The most effective, Peridex, contains chlorhexidine but is prescription-only. (Caution: Chlorhexidine can stain teeth.) Best over-the-counter rinses contain cetylpyridinium chloride (Crest Pro-Health, Act, Colgate). “These actually neutralize the smell and don’t just mask it temporarily,” says Dr. Haraszthy. Mouthwashes that have zinc chloride (Tom’s of Maine Natural Mouthwash), zinc gluconate (Therabreath Plus) and chlorine dioxide (ProFresh) also work.
• Consider toothpaste with an antimicrobial (triclosan). The only toothpaste on the market at the moment that contains an antimicrobial is Colgate Total. Triclosan has been shown to prevent gingivitis, however there are many health risks associated with it, so talk to your doctor.
• Get a deep cleaning. If you've got gum disease, your dentist will recommend you get a deep cleaning by a periodontist.
• Talk to your doctor. If your dentist can’t find a solution to your bad breath, go to your general practitioner who will check for a systemic medical issue.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.