Do you have less than minty-fresh breath? The culprit may be your medication.
Some drugs used to treat arthritis, including naproxen and ibuprofen, and conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome are associated with dry mouth – a major cause of halitosis, aka bad breath.
“Halitosis is very common – and fortunately, very curable,” says Connie White, a dental surgeon and spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry.
Use these smart solutions to keep bad breath at bay:
Don’t let meals linger in your mouth. The single biggest bad-breath culprit is food stuck between the teeth and gums, says White. “It feeds mouth bacteria that produce sulfur – that’s the compound that creates a rotten-egg smell,” she explains. Floss at least once a day and brush your teeth and tongue after each meal, says Jacqueline L. Wolf, MD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. No time to brush? Rinse your mouth with water after meals, advises White.
Check your meds. Antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants and other medications can contribute to dry mouth and bad breath. “Tell your doctor. He may adjust your dosage or suggest a replacement, especially if your dry mouth is severe,” says White. Drink lots of water, and consider chewing sugar-free gum that contains xylitol, which fights decay.
Read your mouthwash’s fine print. “Many mouthwashes have an extremely high alcohol content – up to 21 percent,” says White. “Alcohol is a drying agent, so although you get temporary fresh breath, you’re actually creating a bacteria breeding ground.” If you like to rinse, choose fluoride rinses labeled “low alcohol” or “alcohol-free.”
See your doctor. Tell your doctor about your breath; it may be a sign that something’s amiss with your health. Sjögren’s syndrome can cause dry mouth. Bad breath also can be the result of respiratory problems, such as sinusitis and bronchitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, untreated diabetes, kidney failure or liver failure, says Dr. Wolf.
Steer clear of garlic and onions. They produce a number of sulfur-containing gases that can be excreted for more than four hours,” says Dr. Wolf. If they give you – or the people around you – trouble, skip them.