Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is a common oral health condition that can reduce self-confidence and social interactions. It is estimated that 50% of people regularly experience halitosis.
The good news is that there are a variety of ways to reduce bad breath symptoms, including chewing gum! This article will discuss how gum prevents bad breath, the best gums for preventing bad breath, and alternative treatments for halitosis.
How does gum treat bad breath?
Preventing Dry Mouth
90% of bad breath is caused by a buildup of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which feed on debris from our diet and produce foul-smelling byproducts called volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs).
Reduced levels of saliva (hyposalivation) is a common cause of bacterial buildup and subsequent bad breath. Individuals with low saliva production have been found to have significantly elevated VSC concentrations. Additionally, the presence of tongue coating and tonsil stones is reduced in individuals with a consistent salivary flow.
One reason for this is that harmful bacteria can typically only colonize in our mouths if they avoid being swallowed, and saliva helps prevent them from sticking. Saliva contains proteins that adhere to bacteria and act as a natural rinse to remove them. These proteins include lysozymes, which attack the cell walls of bacteria and cause them to burst, and antibodies, which prevent bacteria from adhering to the teeth and tongue.
Additionally, saliva promotes beneficial bacteria that help control the levels of harmful species known to cause bad breath, tooth decay, periodontal disease, and other conditions. Saliva extracts nitrate from our diets and nourishes healthy bacteria known as nitrate-reducing species, which break nitrate down into nitrous oxide, which aids in reducing blood pressure and enhancing cognitive function. Additionally, these beneficial species produce low levels of hydrogen peroxide and other byproducts that kill the bacterial species linked to bad breath and gum disease.
When we sleep, our saliva flow nearly ceases, which is one reason why bad breath in the morning is so common. Other causes of dry mouth include certain medications, alcohol consumption, dehydration, and skipping meals; as chewing increases saliva production.
Eliminating harmful bacteria
Gums containing the sugar substitute xylitol can actively assist in the elimination of harmful bacteria. Certain oral bacteria are responsible for tooth decay because they convert sugar into acids that can erode teeth. These bacteria feed on sugars in our diet, which allows them to proliferate, form biofilms (plaque), and produce acids that damage your teeth.
Certain sugar alternatives, known as polyols, are indigestible to these bacteria, so sugar substitutes like xylitol provide a sweet taste without the risk of tooth decay. Additionally, it appears to actively inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause cavities. Therefore, xylitol not only doesn't feed harmful bacteria, but it actively inhibits their growth.
Best gum brands for bad breath
If you are concerned about your oral health, PUR gum may be the best option for you. It is completely free of Aspartame, contains xylitol, and, most importantly, is flavored with natural ingredients. If you have a gluten intolerance, you'll be happy to know that PUR is gluten-free and that they frequently offer discounts to customers.
Extra gum is one of the longest-lasting gums available in a variety of flavors. If your primary objective is to combat bad breath, you should consider mint flavors rather than fruity ones. The mint flavor is an excellent option for the majority of individuals, as it offers a balanced blend of peppermint and spearmint that is not overly potent.
Orbit claims that one of its primary ingredients, sorbitol, can strengthen your teeth, and it also contains the essential ingredient, xylitol. Due to its composition and long-lasting minty fresh scent, it is one of the brands recommended by dentists. The optimal way to eliminate coffee breath before an important meeting!
Quip's sugar-free gum has been found to increase saliva production, which helps remove food and other debris. Additionally, it reduces plaque acidity, making teeth more resistant to decay. It contains x ylitol, sodium bicarbonate, and natural sweeteners.
Other treatments for bad breath
Understanding the importance of oral health care and practicing proper oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing or other interdental (between the teeth) cleaning methods, such as using an oral irrigator, is the best defense against bad breath. By consistently adhering to oral hygiene recommendations, we can prevent odor-causing biofilms from forming on our teeth, gums, and tongue.
A systematic review of clinical trials found that professional teeth cleaning, scaling, and root planing (deep cleaning), in combination with oral hygiene practice, reduced the levels of VSCs in patients with intra-oral halitosis (bad breath coming from inside the mouth) or gum disease, I ndependent of the use of a tongue scraper or mouth rinse. However, regular oral hygiene may not be enough to prevent or treat bad breath.
Cleaning the tongue or tongue scraping
Regular tongue cleaning can reduce VSC levels in halitosis sufferers by 30-75%.
In 2001, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of various tongue cleaning devices in lowering oral VSC levels. They utilized a brush-and-scraper combination, a tongue scraper, and a standard toothbrush. VSCs were reduced by 42%, 40%, and 30% in the oral bacteria tests, respectively.
In subjects who used the tongue cleaner, the decrease in VSC lasted significantly longer; but after more than 30 minutes, the reduction was no longer detectable in any case. Oral hygiene recommendations
Several types of mouthwash have been granted the ADA's seal of acceptance and are clinically-approved oral hygiene recommendations. These mouthwashes contain various active ingredients to reduce the amount of bacteria and the VSCs they produce.
Studies have shown that mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine (CHX), cetylpyridinium chloride, and zinc reduce halitosis symptoms. At three and six months, individuals using the zinc acetate/CHX rinse showed significant reductions in the total VSCs in their oral bacteria test. With regular rinsing, the study group showed no differences in tooth staining.
However, long-term use of CHX mouthwash may result in discoloration of the teeth and tongue, a metallic taste, or a loss of taste.
The above mouthwashes simply reduce bacterial abundance and diversity, reducing the levels of both beneficial and harmful bacteria. Without an oral bacteria test, it is difficult to determine what bacteria are present and how many harmful or beneficial species the mouthwash removes. Halitosis sufferers can consider mouthwashes as a short-term solution and combine it with other oral hygiene recommendations. Their microbiomes need to be re-seeded with strains that support oral health.
Make sure to drink plenty of water in order to stimulate saliva production and remove food particles from the mouth that feed odor-causing bacteria.
Raw, high-fiber fruits and vegetables also reduce disease-causing bacteria, while yogurt can effectively promote probiotic bacteria and reduce VSC levels.
For oral hygiene, the most highly recommended foods are nitrate-rich vegetables like spinach, lettuce, fennel, radishes, and beets. These act as a probiotic and increase the levels of beneficial bacteria in our oral microbiome.
Want to learn more about your oral health, and if you have the bacteria that cause bad breath? You can test your oral bacteria with the Bristle Oral Health test.