New Castle News

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June 13, 2013

Lori Brothers: Tips to keep your breath from stinking

NEW CASTLE — I remember, when I was about 12 years old, my grandmother talked about how mint was excellent to chew on because it prevented halitosis.

She actually used this word, which expanded my vocabulary, but also horrified me.

Some of you may recall what it feels like when you’re 12. Talking about bad breath is not a cool conversation. So imagine how I cringed when she was bringing up something as stinky as halitosis.

First of all, what kind of crazy word is that?  

Wikipedia recounts an interesting legend that suggests that “halitosis” was a made-up word by the makers of Listerine to promote their mouthwash in the 1920s.

But Wikipedia also confirmed that “halitosis” is in fact a word with an earlier history. Another interesting fact about halitosis dates back to 1550 B.C., and the mention of bad breath. In those day, it was suggested that a mouthwash of wine and herbs would solve the problem.

So bad breath is not a new affliction. Does anybody have a clothes pin?

Believe it or not, bad breath follows only periodontal disease and tooth decay as the third most frequent reason for seeking a dentist.


Gingivitis, abscess, dental cavities and infection account for the gum and tooth diseases that can contribute to a stinky exhale.

Also, infections in the sinuses, nose, throat, tonsils or esophagus can be the culprit. Lung infections and diseases may also play a role in bad breath.

Even if you bypass the mouth, nose, throat and lungs, the real problem may be located lower, in the gastrointestinal tract. In this case, bad breath can be disease-oriented, such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Also, extreme cases of dieting will cause imbalances that lead to bad breath. So stay off the starvation diets.

A dry mouth can contribute to bad breath. Regular alcohol use or abuse, tea and coffee, and other drinks that contain caffeine are very drying to the whole body, including the mouth. Certain prescription medications can also make your mouth dry.

The worse kind of bad breath, experienced by most people is “morning breath.”  This is because our systems shut down while we are sleeping, also causing dry mouth when you wake in the morning.

To combat dry mouth, and that daunting halitosis, do your best to stay hydrated. The recommendation is a minimum of 2 liters of water per day, or eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. How many trips to the bathroom is that?

Herbal teas (my grandmother might suggest Mint tea), or other beverages without caffeine, can be included in your daily water in-take. I like to have fresh lemon or lime in my fridge to flavor the water, if your tongue calls for some flavor make it fresh, caffeine-free, and without too much sweetner as much as possible.

Don’t forget the garlic and onions that haunt us hours after they’ve been eaten. This may be a place for a wise application of chewing gum. I prefer breath mints.

Other helpful hints include gargling right before bed time with mouthwash, tongue cleaning, brushing teeth, flossing and visits to the dentist.

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