In the quest to keep bad breath at bay, halitosis experts can (and have) tried all sorts of experiments to see what neutralizes odor-causing bacteria. In fact, all sorts of researchers and experts of every stripe – including chemists, bacteriologists, allergists, psychologists and even…martial arts masters? – are prey to bad breath, so why shouldn’t they take a swipe at eliminating it?
For example, I recently appeared on QVC UK to discuss the inception of my research into the connection between microbes, dry mouth and halitosis. The person who pointed me in the right direction was my daughter, who was 13 years old at the time. She said that her friends kept offering her breath mints and gum after athletic practice, and she knew (smart girl!) that they were tactfully telling her that she had bad breath.
Today, I hear this complaint in breath clinics all the time. The origin of this kind of bad breath is bacteria, since microorganisms are what release the sulfur-based molecules that give halitosis its bad scent. However, I knew there was an underlying problem, and eventually it occurred to me: dry mouth.
Whether or not you’re an athlete, you’ve probably suffered from this problem before. Lots of things can dry out your mouth. Physical activity parches your tongue and palate due to all the panting it requires. But just think of all the other situations that can leave your mouth dry: anxiety, fear of public speaking, mouth-breathing, talking for extended periods of time, smoking, sleeping with your mouth open, using an alcohol-based mouthwash, breathing cold or dry winter air, even having Sjogren’s syndrome, which is a fairly rare autoimmune condition that leaves the eyes and mouth chronically dry. (You might recall that tennis star Venus Williams recently announced that she’s been diagnosed with it.)
The solution is to use a product that can moisten the mouth, oxygenate the tongue, rinse away bacteria and freshen breath all at once. The History Channel recently called such specialty products a “modern marvel” as part of a special, odor-themed episode of the show of the same name. My daughter’s been using these products for years, and she no longer gets offered free gum and mints, that’s for sure!