Q: Are mints or gum better at helping you freshen your breath?
A: Let’s start by saying the very best way to freshen your breath is good oral hygiene. Outside of that, everyone could benefit from a breath freshener when brushing isn’t possible. Both gum and mints aid in stimulating saliva flow, which helps to cleanse the mouth. However, I would generally recommend sugar-free gum over mints.
I like the physical action of chewing to potentially remove food debris and plaque. That said, chewing gum over a long period of time increases the risk of excessive tooth wear and muscle soreness, so I recommend limiting gum-chewing sessions to 15 minutes. If you’ve had a history of temporomandibular joint problems, then sugar-free mints would likely be a better choice.
I don’t recommend gums or mints containing sugar. These can contribute to tooth decay by acting as a food source for the bacteria in your mouth. When those bacteria feed on sugars, one of the byproducts is acid, which is what breaks down the tooth.
(This information provided courtesy of Cleveland Clinic HealthEssentials. A Wellness Update is a magazine devoted to up-to-the minute information on health issues from physicians, major hospitals and clinics, universities and health care agencies across the U.S. Online at www.awellnessupdate.com.)
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Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.