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It’s a popular misconception that halitosis, or bad breath, is a result of eating garlic, onions or spicy foods. In fact, it’s caused by the growth of “bad” bacteria in the mouth and throat that emit volatile sulfurous odors and cause an imbalance in the oral microbiome. Diet and other lifestyle factors can exacerbate the problem. Here are some of the biggest culprits:
An alkaline diet is the key to good oral health. Dr. Lewis Gross, a holistic dentist based in Tribeca and a Montauk resident, created a pH-balancing mouthwash to combat bad breath and brighten teeth without harsh chemicals.
So how can you ensure people aren’t trying to keep their distance from you because of your breath? First, I advocate a diet rich in alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are found in fruits and vegetables. Staying well hydrated on alkaline water will also keep your health in balance, as will avoiding the acidic foods mentioned above. We humans thrive in a balanced state—a pH of 7 to 7.5 is ideal (you can measure your saliva with litmus paper, available at any drugstore). I also recommend an alkaline oral-care regimen that includes Alka-White effervescent tablets, a natural, pH-balancing mouthwash that I created to help combat acidity and re-mineralize teeth. It lubricates, detoxifies and is also a wonderful way to fight against bad breath—plus, you’ll even whiten your teeth in the process. alkawhite.com 88
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• Simple carbohydrates, like sugar and other simple carbs, contribute to the growth of “bad” bacteria. Sugary gum and mints perfume the breath, but they actually make things worse by feeding the microbes responsible for mouth odor. • An acidic diet. Certain foods, including sodas, sugar, grains, certain dairy products and processed foods, can cause more acidity in the body and contribute to an acidic oral environment, resulting in bad breath. • Poor oral hygiene, including incorrect brushing and not flossing, encourages the growth of anaerobic bacteria (microbes that prefer a low oxygen environment below the gum line); these bugs emit the most offensive odors. • Dental issues, including untreated cavities, impacted wisdom teeth and poor-fitting dental prostheses, harbor microbes that cause halitosis. • Aging. We salivate less as we get older, which causes dry mouth and less-than-fresh breath. • Smoking. Yet another reason to quit. • Crash dieting. As the body breaks down fat, it releases ketones, which causes bad breath. • Certain medications, excessive alcohol and coffee are also dehydrating and cause morning breath.