Was It Mint To Be?
Breath mints present an interesting conundrum for dentists and oral health professionals. The marketing of many breath mint products would suggest that a simple consumable tablet can easily control or cure bad breath.
Breath mint advertisements conjure up images of a clean, fresh mouth with just one use. While many mints may provide temporary relief from a stinky mouth, they don’t last long and are no substitute for an actual oral health routine. They have no discernable benefits to oral health.
But, are they bad for your teeth?
Flossing and regular visits to Willow Pass Dental Care for checkups are also highly recommended, but brushing is the foundation for an effective dental hygiene routine.
Brushing your teeth is the cornerstone of a healthy dental hygiene routine. We have been taught, told, and exhorted to brush our teeth from the emergence of our very first tooth.
Recent headlines would suggest that sparkling water might not be such a great alternative to just plain old water. But is bubbly, carbonated water really that bad?
What Causes Bad Breath?
In order to answer the question of whether mints are helpful or harmful to your teeth, it is important to understand what causes bad breath.
Smelly breath, or halitosis, is largely caused by bacteria although this is not always the case. Bad breath can, for example, be the result of a meat-heavy diet, underlying health issues, or genetics. For the most part, however, halitosis is the result of odors produced by oral bacteria as they break down and metabolize scraps of food.
Therefore, the best way to eliminate bad breath is to eliminate the offending microbes through a combination of brushing, flossing, and regular professional dental cleanings.
Breath mints do not have any tangible oral health benefits, but are they harmful to your teeth or mouth?
When Breath Mints Are Okay
Most breath mints are harmless when consumed in moderation and when they are not used as a replacement for actual oral hygiene.
At Willow Pass Dental Care we advise patients to choose sugar-free mints flavored with natural sugar-substitutes when possible. That’s because sugar is the primary fuel for a variety of acid-spewing bacteria and a host of other health concerns.
Certain strains of oral bacteria, namely Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, and various lactobacilli metabolize sugar and often proliferate rapidly when exposed to it.
Worse, these destructive bacteria produce acid as a waste by-product. Over time, acid can wear away your dental enamel leading to holes in your teeth also known as cavities or dental caries. These penetrations in the enamel allow bacteria to invade and infect your inner teeth which, if left untreated, will eventually lead to tooth loss and bad breath.
Breath Mints Are Okay When . . .
- They are occasionally consumed
- They are sugar-free and made from natural products
- They do NOT replace a rigorous oral hygiene routine
When Breath Mints Bad for Your Teeth & Mouth
Many conventional breath mint products are functionally no different from candy. You read my article about candy right? Tasty Candy That's Good For Your Teeth --- No Kidding!
Most commercially produced breath mints are loaded with bacteria-fueling sugar and may actually harm oral health in the long run.
The occasional sugary mint here or there won’t do much harm. However, if you catch yourself habitually popping mints after every meal and throughout the day that might be a potential problem for your teeth and mouth.
Remember, breath mints do not actually clean your mouth but rather simply overpower and cover up odors originating from the oral cavity. While the rush of minty flavor may be refreshing, the sugars in the product may actually be contributing to bad breath rather than combating it.
Many people horrified by their own smelly breath might be tempted to reach for a breath mint.
This would be a mistake!
Consuming more sugar when halitosis is already an issue will only exacerbate the problem and lead to a vicious cycle of bad breath, followed by consumption of sugary mints, followed by even worse bad breath and other health concerns.
Breath Mints Are Bad When . . .
- They become a substitute for actual oral hygiene
- They contain sugar or sugar derivatives
- They are obsessively consumed
Fresh Alternatives For Your Mouth
To truly break the cycle of bad breath, it will take a rigorous oral hygiene routine coupled with important dietary and health choices.
Following are 7 alternative ways to freshen your breath.
7 Alternative Ways To Freshen Your Breath
Dr. Reza's Picks for
BEST BREATH MINTS
Without all the synthetic ingredients and artificial flavors.
Simply Mints contain natural ingredients, no artificial flavors, no preservatives, and no synthetics. The mints are non-GMO certified, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher certified.
Instead of artificial sweeteners, they use pure cane sugar. They use a bit of calcium stearate as a binding agent. This vegetable-based ingredient keeps things together while keeping things natural. They never use artificial flavors.
VerMints are organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, nut-free, and kosher mints. Their own website states: "We ditched all the gross, health-harming, chemically-modified stuff that you usually find in mints and made super tasty (some even say super-powered) mints from nature and nature only."
Peppersmith Mints are sugar-free mints sweetened with 100 percent xylitol, a naturally derived ingredient which assists in keeping teeth healthy. The mints contain no aspartame and are vegan approved. They have a variety of natural flavors and can be purchased at Amazon. One testimonial says they are easily the best mints on the market.
Myntz breath mints are sugar-free and sweetened with sorbitol, a natural sugar substitute. They claim on their website to be dentist recommended and since I'm mentioning them I guess they are. They are low in calories and recommended for low-carb diets.