The date’s gone well, your jokes have been funny and it’s soon time for that all-important first kiss. But that age-old worry is never far away – does my breath smell?
Bad breath, or halitosis, is caused by mouth bacteria that break down food and release bad smelling sulphurous compounds in the process.
Bad breath can be a real mood killer, annoying everyone from colleagues to fellow commuters and frightening away potential mates.
And while many of us believe a quick breath check – blowing into the palms of the hands and sniffing – is enough to detect an unpleasant odor, experts warn this method is actually ineffective.
Instead, they advise licking the back of your wrist or touching a spoon against the tongue for a truer measure of freshness.
Here, they reveal the most effective ways of identifying bad breath, and how to get rid of it once and for all…
The smell of breath might change throughout the day, so it’s best to check up to three or four times over the course of 24 hours.
THE CAUSE OF BAD BREATH
A strict diet or an intense workout regiment can have can cause bad breath, due to dehydration. This exacerbates bad breath as it means less saliva is formed to clean the mouth of plaque. Remember that sports drinks, tend to be high in salt and sugar, which can promote bacteria in the mouth.
We all know the horrors of “morning breath.” In fact, this derives from the fact that we’ve gone all night generating minimal saliva. Skipping breakfast could be another unpleasant breath trigger, as eating first thing helps stimulate saliva that has been depleted while we sleep.
LOW CARB DIETS
Along with extreme exercise, any diet which cause the body to break down fat also cause a phenomenon known in nutrition circles as ‘camel breath’, he said.
If you’re following a low carbohydrate diet such as Atkins your body may be in a state of ketosis (a metabolic state where most of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood) resulting in an unpleasant mouth odor.
And any action that causes dehydration, or changes the pH balance of the mouth, can cause bacteria to thrive. This means that wine, or coffee can contribute, and flying, with its treated air environment can also lead to bad breath.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
Mints can help alleviate mouth odor, but make sure they’re sugar-free. Sugary mints can create a vicious cycle that creates more bacteria and more bad breath.
If you’re caught short the best thing to do is to get some toothpaste, but if you can’t get your hands on a tube chewing on crunchy, raw foods like carrots and apples also clear plaque and stimulate the production of saliva. Sour foods like lemon can also induce saliva. Spices like cinnamon and cloves, and herbs like parsely, fennel and dill also improve bad breath as they contain compounds that kill the odor-causing bacteria.
All of the above are only quick fixes. If your halitosis is an ongoing problem. You might want to talk to your dentist.