There's nothing like that feeling of clean fresh breath that you get right after you brush your teeth - but unfortunately, it often doesn't last very long. You can try to recreate it all day long by popping mints, chewing gum, and spraying minty concoctions into your mouth, but it seems that nothing has a really lasting effect; before you know it, your mouth feels like a garbage can again and you're afraid to stand too close to anyone when you are talking.
It's important to realize that, while that cool mint taste does almost assure good breath, at least for the moment, the lack of it does not mean that you have halitosis. Many people think they have bad breath when they actually do not. In addition, many instances of bad odor coming from the mouth are caused by food or beverages - these odors are transient, and they will soon pass and be forgotten. The odor of tobacco smoke is more persistent, simply because continued smoking sustains the problem, but even this is not halitosis in the classic sense, and a strong mint or breath spray will work wonders for maintaining fresh breath.
There are a few old home recipes for good breath, like rinsing with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or both, but most people today purchase commercial products. The halitosis market has proven to be a lucrative one and there are lots of brands to choose from. As with everything else, there is a range of prices, and some fresh breath products work better than others. But the good news is that many of them work quite well.
The best products are those that contain an antiseptic ingredient, that is, something that gets rid of oral bacteria. The bad odor we associate with halitosis is produced by bacteria living in the mouth, especially on the tongue, between the teeth, and in small airless pockets and folds throughout the mouth. When there are lots of a particular group of bacteria living and flourishing in the mouth, bad odors are produced: get rid of them and you have good breath. Products that rely on a strong-smelling ingredient, like mints, simply cover up the odor and produce temporary fresh breath that does not last.
Most good breath products that act on the bacteria are mouth washes and rinses; however, some chewing gums and strips, most available directly from the manufacturer, are available. For most people with halitosis, the best way to fresh breath is to select complementary products (gum, rinse etc. ) and use them consistently for an extended period of time.
R. Drysdale is a freelance writer with more than 25 years experience as a health care professional. She is a contributing editor to Fresh Breath , a blog dedicated to the treatment of bad breath.