Bad breath isn’t an acute health problem – that is, it doesn’t happen suddenly or just once. (Unlike, say, a broken bone or chicken pox.) Instead, halitosis is a chronic condition, one that recurs and, for some people, lasts for years without going away at all. This regularity is what makes specialty breath freshening technology so important. Without alcohol-free mouthwashes, periotherapy rinses or oral care probiotics, it’d be vastly harder to keep oral odor at bay.
While non-specialty products either don’t work or have fleeting effects at best, a few products – many of which are ironically marketed as bad breath “cures” – go so far as to cause bad breath. Here are some of the worst offenders, listed in no particular order.
- Herbs. There’s a lot to be said for herbal remedies. After all, they’re where clinical and specialty treatments came from. Yet, there are two sides to that coin. As Irish stand-up comedian Dara O’Briain puts it, “we tested herbal medicines, and what worked became medicine.” His point, embedded in an extended bit on clinical quackery, is that things that sound too good to be true usually are, particularly if they’re marketed as an alternative treatment with a notably vague mechanism of action. Two good cases in point are cayenne pepper and garlic, both of which routinely get recommended as treatments for canker sores. While both are technically good for you, neither is proven to have any significant effect on oral sores or the odor they cause. And, by the way, cayenne pepper on a canker sore? Not a good idea, unless you want to spend 15 minutes shrieking in pain.
- Licorice root. As with the herbs listed above, licorice is sometimes touted as a treatment for odor-causing canker sores. However, after searching the medical literature on the subject, researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) could only find one very small study demonstrating anything to that effect. Larger investigations of licorice root and canker sores just don’t exist, so stick to your specialty breath fresheners for now. (more…)