Sweeten Your Pout With Kefir (MWAH!)Sep
9/7/2010 2:04 PM
What is bad breath?
No one is immune to garlic breath, but chronic halitosis is nothing to laugh at. Besides causing embarrassment and negatively impacting your professional and social life, bad breath is often a signal that all is not right with the body. Besides food (the breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can cause a foul odor, as can leftover bits of pungent foods, like onions, coffee, tuna and spices), other causes of chronic bad breath include:
Dental problems If you don't brush and floss daily, food particles will remain in your mouth, where they collect bacteria. Those bacteria can emit chemicals like hydrogen sulfide — the same compound that gives rotten eggs their characteristic smell. Next, a colorless, sticky film of bacteria called plaque forms on teeth; if it’s not brushed away, it can irritate gums and cause tooth decay. Eventually, plaque-filled pockets can form between your teeth and gums worsening the problem…and your breath.
Dry mouth Many common medications, such as antihistamines and antidepressants, can cause dry mouth. Without adequate saliva to wash away bacteria, bad breath bugs multiply and take over. (Need proof that a dry mouth is a smelly mouth? Think of morning breath.) Antacids can lead to stinky breath in a different way: Without sufficient stomach acid, food ferments in the stomach and the decaying odor escapes through the mouth.
Other diseases About 1 in 10 bad breath cases result from an illness, such as cancer, uncontrolled diabetes, kidney or liver failure, chronic acid reflux or a metabolic disorder.
Smoking In addition to causing cancer and premature aging of the skin, smoking dries out your mouth and leaves an unpleasant oral odor. Tobacco users are also more likely to have periodontal disease, itself a source of bad breath.
What are the symptoms?
Remember, bad breath following a grande coffee is much different than the sort of chronic bad breath that repels people and causes them to offer you mints at every turn. If you suspect you may have bad breath, make an appointment with your dentist and share your concerns – he or she can check for gum disease, cavities, abscesses or decay. It can be hard to tell whether you have bad breath, so you may need to employ an honest (and close!) friend to give you the real truth.
What can you do?
Clearly, hygiene is of utmost importance when it comes to preventing bad breath. Remember to brushing your teeth and tongue after eating, floss daily and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You may want to purchase a tongue scraper to reduce odors that originate from the tongue. Decrease alcohol and coffee intake and avoid other food and beverages that can lead to bad breath. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months and see your dentist twice a year, to have your teeth or dentures examined and cleaned.
If your bad breath is due to plaque, your dentist may recommend a mouth rinse that eradicates the odor-causing bacteria. Research shows that those containing the ingredients cetylpyridinium chloride or chlorhexidine can prevent production of odors that cause bad breath. Other active ingredients, such as chlorinedioxide and zinc, are good at neutralizing odor-causing bacterial byproducts. Your dentist may also recommend a toothpaste that contains an antibacterial agent to kill the bacteria that cause plaque buildup.
If your dentists suspects the bad breath is being caused by a GI problem, diabetes, cancer or another illness, he will refer you to the appropriate physician for follow-up.
One surprising possible bad breath beater: Green tea! A 2008 study in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences and Vitaminology found that green tea’s polyphenols are stealth odor-fighters, inhibiting volatile sulfur compounds in the mouth.
How can kefir help?
According to American Dietetic Association spokesperson Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD , kefir can help alleviate bad breath. That’s because kefir contains multiple strains of “good bacteria,” aka probiotics, which balance and reduce overgrowth of odor-causing bacteria. You don’t swish it like mouthwash – just drink a cup a day. Gerbstadt suggests sticking with plain kefir (like Lifeway nonfat Plain). As the sugar in the flavored varieties will be partially digested in the mouth, feeding odor-causing bacteria