Why are some people so sensitive to halitosis, while others seem to be almost immune to the smell of bad breath? There are several reasons, including basic physical factors like a hypersensitive nose or the presence of an unfamiliar or especially strong scent. But, overall, we can chalk up insensitivity to bad breath to the fact that all diets, not matter how veggie-heavy, appear to cause halitosis.
This means that virtually everyone gets bad breath, which then makes it harder for their noses to pick up on the smell of other peoples’ oral funk.
It’s true — and a new study appearing in the European Journal of Nutrition has confirmed it. Author Jukka Meurman, of the University of Helsinki, began by considering the idea that certain diets are more likely to give you funky breath. After all, if specific foods like garlic or asparagus can give you halitosis, then why not whole dietary regimens?
However, Meurman found that there’s hardly one style of eating that causes oral odor. Instead, all diets seem to.
He did note that “fermentable carbohydrates…should be avoided in cases with bad breath,” since carbs may encourage bacteria to multiply. But overall, he could not point his finger at just one offending diet: “No controlled studies exist on the effect of dietary regimens on halitosis, which in effect is mostly due to putrescence in deep periodontal pockets or tonsillar crypts.”
He’s certainly right there. Most bad breath starts in the mouth as a result of gum disease, tonsil stones or a dry tongue.
Now, that’s not to say that food doesn’t cause bad breath. It does. Rather, Meurman found that all diets (instead a particular one) eventually lead to halitosis.
Consider a diet that’s dairy-heavy. Would you expect it to give you bad breath? (After all, certain cheeses are quite stinky, and milk seems to reliably lead to funky mouth odor.) Well, if you said yes, you’d be right: Dairy can quickly ferment in your mouth, leading to the production of volatile sulfur compounds, the molecules that give halitosis its nasty reek.
That doesn’t mean that milk is without its dental benefits. Not only does dairy contain calcium, a mineral needed for bone hardness, but it is also the breeding ground for Lactobacillus salivarius K12, the microbe used in specialty oral care probiotics to banish other, odor-causing bacteria.