What is bad breath and why does it irk us so much when our friends, family, and colleagues have it?
Like anything else, the history of how we’ve come to hate bad breath can help us understand the unpleasant occurrence today.
In the 1920’s, advertising became an extremely important tool to help get people to buy their products. As the foundation of western consumer culture was born, so was the term for the medical condition we know as bad breath.
A brand we still know today, Listerine, created an advertising campaign that depicted people with a condition called “halitosis”, or bad breath. The characters in these largely print and radio advertisements would always depict somebody with bad breath that was in some way impacted negatively by halitosis, a guy that is rejected by a girl when he asks her on a date, a person not getting a job after going to the interview with halitosis.
Combating Bad Breath Today
Being aware of what we eat can affect how our breath smells. The food you eat begins to break down in your mouth. It is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, eventually being carried to your lungs which begins to project the scent of the food digesting. Food with strong odors like onion and garlic have the more potent stenches that result in halitosis, and mouthwash like Listerine will do nothing more than cover it up temporarily. The odor leaves when the food has passed through your body completely.
Webmd.com suggests that bad breath can prevented if you:
- Practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush teeth and tongue each time after you eat. Replace your toothbrush after your sick and periodically. Always use floss daily and use an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day. Remove your dentures nightly and clean them so they are ready in the morning.
- See your dentist at least twice a year. He or she will conduct an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning and will be able to detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be the cause of bad mouth odor.
- Stop smoking and chewing tobacco-based products.
- Drink lots of water to keep your mouth moist. Chewing gum also stimulates the production of saliva which helps wash away food particles and bacteria.
- Be aware of what you eat. If you keep track of it, you’ll be able to tell which foods give you halitosis and thus giving you another way to prevent it!