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If you’re used to chatting with people throughout the day, bad breath can hinder your ability to approach people with confidence. You can try a number of solutions to help with this, and breath mints are one of the popular options. Not all mints are created equal, however. Some simply mask bad breath while others work all day to keep halitosis at bay. Here’s how to make an informed choice on which products are most likely to work for you.

Causes of Bad Breath

Some of the reasons for bad breath are fairly harmless and most people experience them at some point in their lives. The top six causes, according to the American Dental Association, are:

  • Bacteria that feed on food residue and produce waste that causes an odor.
  • Dry mouth caused by insufficient production of saliva.
  • Gum disease caused by plaque.
  • Strong-scented foods such as garlic and onions.
  • Smoking tobacco.
  • Medical conditions, including mouth infections or illnesses such as kidney disease.

How Breath Mints Work

The science behind using breath fresheners in the form of candies or gum is simple. Sucking or chewing something results in the production of extra saliva, which washes your mouth and teeth clean of any odor-causing bacteria. At the same time, the minty scent helps to mask the odor in the short-term while the saliva is produced, so you have a short-term and a long-term solution in one. The success of this method, however, depends on the ingredients in your mint.

Ingredients in a Breath Mint

Most hard candies, including breath freshening mints, contain sugar or artificial sweeteners that feed the bacteria that causes the problem. Many products also contain protein from gelatin, another primary bacteria food. For these reasons, even the strongest-flavored mints are unlikely to do more than mask the odor, which is why many dental professionals recommend chewing sugarless gum instead of breath mints. Gum has the additional benefit of keeping your mouth working and producing saliva long after a candy-type mint would have been consumed.

If you’re a devotee of using breath mints, aim for products that contain all-natural ingredients like xylitol for sweetness and natural flavorants. Zinc gluconate, an oxidizing agent used in antimalodour ingredients, is a useful addition because it blocks odor receptors from binding with the amino acids to produce sulfurous compounds, according to a study published in the Journal of Oral Diseases. Products that contain a saliva stimulator are also beneficial for countering bad breath.

Other Ways to Avoid Halitosis

The most reliable method for avoiding bad breath remains a sound oral hygiene regimen, based on twice-daily brushing and flossing once a day. If you use Colgate® Max Fresh® with Mini Breath Strips you can breathe confidently with this unique formula – packed with hundreds of mini breath strips that unleash a powerful rush of freshness for long-lasting fresh breath.

It may not be possible to resolve your halitosis problem with a breath mint or gum. By practicing good dental health and regularly visiting your dentist, however, you should be able to stop bad breath from affecting your life and knocking your confidence.