Jerry Seinfeld might’ve been the star of the award-winning sitcom “Seinfeld,” but he may also know a thing or two about bad breath. When asked which character on the show had the worst oral odor, Jerry responded that some of women he had “dated” on the show had breath that could rival the stench of “the beast.” During intimate scenes when he would get up close to them, the comedian claimed he could notice which actresses had not eaten that day. He explained that this is because when someone has bad breath, often he or she has skipped a meal. Of the actresses who played his girlfriends, most were concerned about their weight, and during the day they wouldn’t eat. Come show time, their mouths produced quite the stink.
True, when people miss meals or are hungry, they tend to come down with halitosis, or bad breath. A major reason is that saliva production decreases in the mouth during this time. When we are chewing foods, saliva acts as a cleanser that rinses out stray bits of food and anaerobic bacteria that contain stinky sulfur compounds. However, as the muscles in the mouth relax while we are not eating, bacteria accumulates, triggering foul breath. It’s no surprise then that dieting can lead to bad breath. People on low-carb diets in particular frequently suffer from halitosis. According to the National Marketing Institute, more than 25 million people in the U.S. say they’ve tried the Atkins diet. That’s a whole lot of potentially stinky breathers! By cutting carbohydrates in the body, dieters begin to use more fat for energy. As the body burns fat, certain chemicals called ketones are released in the mouth. One particular type of ketone is acetone, which tends to be excreted both in the urine and breath. Clearly, acetone doesn’t smell like peaches.
In effect, dieters may experience keto-breath, which is the odor produced by the ketones. You don’t want this smelly side effect to offset the potential benefits of losing weight!
“Carbohydrates aren’t readily available, so you start to use other fats and proteins as your source of energy, and as a result you are going to get a breath problem,” Kenneth Burrell, DDS, senior director of the council on scientific affairs of the American Dental Associations, told WebMD.
How to get rid of bad breath from diets
• Drink more water! Start with around eight glasses each day. This will rinse out the mouth and stimulate saliva flow.
• Instead of waving off meals, choose healthier options, such as salads, fruits and vegetables. Snappy foods – apples, broccoli, etc. – are especially good choices, since they dislodge food particles and increase saliva.
• Steer clear of mouthwash that contains alcohol, as it dries out the mouth, which can actually contribute to bad breath! Instead, use alcohol-free mouthwash.
• Try out oral probiotics. These are filled with “good” bacteria that pack a range of healthy benefits. Using oral probiotics can protect the gums, teeth and throat from the foul anaerobic bacteria, and thus, bad breath. By forming hydrogen peroxide, it bolsters gastrointestinal health as well as immune system function. In short, probiotics keep your mouth and stomach healthy and clean!
• Chew sugar-free gum with xylitol. Munching on some gum for five minutes after a meal is shown to improve oral hygiene.
• Consider switching to a diet that includes more carbs.
“The South Beach diet permits more carbs than the traditional Atkins diet, so there is bound to be less bad breath on South Beach because you are not going into a state of ketosis,” S. Lawrence Simon, DDS, a New York City periodontist, explained to WebMD.
So, even if you’re not auditioning for the next hit TV show, be sure to pay attention to your body to keep your breath smelling fresh!