Some of our favorite foods and drinks have the unfortunate side effect of causing bad breath. That’s why millions of people arm themselves daily with breath mints, mint chewing gum or other pocket-sized breath fresheners. The problem with these minty weapons is that they only cover bad breath and cannot attack the real problem: bacteria. Mouthwash is better for your breath, and overall better for your oral health.
Bad breath caused by foods like garlic or beverages like coffee is temporary, but chronic bad breath is a problem that needs treatment and not just a cover-up. Halitosis, the proper term for bad breath, is caused by bacteria on the teeth and gums. Chronic bad breath could be a sign of gum disease.
Most mouthwashes contain ingredients that fight bacteria. When choosing a mouthwash, look carefully at the claims on the label, and then look for the ADA seal. The ADA (American Dental Association) seal means that the ADA has agreed that the mouthwash does what it claims to do. Mouthwash labels may use phrases like tartar control or plaque fighting. Without the ADA seal, these claims may not be valid.
Mouthwash may also contain fluoride. You should be using fluoride toothpaste twice a day to brush your teeth, but a fluoride mouthwash may also be recommended. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and helps to prevent cavities and tooth decay.
Breath mints and mint chewing gums are not actually harmful as long as they contain no sugar. Chewing gum can actually help your teeth by promoting saliva production, which helps to wash away acids from foods. Chewing sugarless gum after meals is actually a good habit, but if you are using gum or mints constantly to fight bad breath, you should see the dentist.
Gum disease and tooth decay will cause bad breath that keeps coming back no matter how much mouthwash you use. Getting these problems treated will eliminate chronic bad breath, save your teeth and prevent toothache, bleeding gums and other oral health problems. You can keep normal, food-related bad breath in check and fight bacteria by using ADA approved mouthwash as part of your daily oral hygiene routine.