Should I Use Breath Mints or Gum to Combat Bad Breath?

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Few conditions are as socially embarrassing as bad breath. Whether your halitosis is caused by periodontal disease, poor intestinal flora or a dry mouth due to medications you take, if you constantly need to use breath mints or gum to stay fresh, it's best to know the facts about these products.

Are Mints or Gum Better for Daily Use?

Every product has its pros and cons, and mints and gum are no exceptions. Mints frequently contain sugar, which is known to feed oral bacteria that cause bad breath. Specially formulated, sugar-free mints can be a good short-term fix, mainly because they encourage the production of cleansing saliva in your mouth, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

Sugarless gum, however, can actually be beneficial in the long-term, helping to prevent cavities from developing. Chewing for 20 minutes after eating a meal can stimulate the saliva flow, which washes away the food acids and residues from your teeth, says the ADA. This has the added benefit of helping to reduce tooth sensitivity resulting from whitening procedures.

Which Lasts Longer?

Breath mints, whether they are sugarless or not, dissolve eventually in the mouth. Gum, on the other hand, lasts longer and continues to work to stimulate the salivary glands, even once the flavor has faded. The disadvantage of chewing gum is that it's considered inappropriate or rude in some situations, such as during meetings at work or in the classroom. In these circumstances, mints are a more suitable option. When you're at home or out with friends, however, chewing gum is probably fine. While neither sucking mints nor chewing gum is a complete solution to replace regular mouth care products, like the Colgate® 360°® toothbrush and toothpaste containing fluoride, it certainly can have a place in your daily oral hygiene regimen.

Keeping Bad Breath at Bay

Your best bet for keeping bad breath at bay is to follow the guidelines for a healthy mouth. Dentists recommend brushing twice a day followed by flossing, regular professional cleanings and a thorough oral exam every six months. See your doctor about any symptoms you have that might indicate your bad breath results from a medical condition, follow a healthy diet and use sugar-free breath mints or gum only as a temporary last resort to improve halitosis.

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