Zinc for Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Woman using breath freshener
A woman using mouth spray to mask her halitosis. (Image: XiXinXing/iStock/Getty Images)

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be an embarrassing social problem. You may have bad breath without knowing it, so proper dental hygiene in combination with zinc-containing products is key to ensuring your breath is fresh.

Primary Cause

Oral bacterias bind to surface proteins and metabolize the protein particles into sulfur gas. Sulfur is an organic compound that is often identified by its rotten egg scent. These sulfur gases give your breath an unpleasant odor. Zinc ions reduce the concentration of sulfur gases.

Increased Halitosis

A gram-negative anaerobic bacterium that lives on all oral surfaces is the prime cause of bad breath, according to Twinbrook Dental Center. Some items you consume can cause temporary bad breath such as garlic, onions, sardines, coffee and alcohol. A sinus or throat infection can also lead to bad breath. Dehydration, or having a general dry mouth, can worsen your breath.

Zinc Products

According to Quality Dentistry, rinsing with an over-the-counter mouthwash is similar to rinsing with plain water unless the mouthwash has zinc chloride. Mouthwashes are only a temporary solution to bad breath and, without the zinc chloride, the mouthwash only masks the bad odor. If zinc chloride is combined with ionone, an aroma compound, plaque and odors are removed from the mouth for longer periods of time. Other temporary breath cover-ups are mints, drops, sprays, lozenges and chewing gum. Check the ingredients for zinc to get the most effective breath cover-up.

Zinc Effect

Instead of bacteria binding to surface proteins and releasing sulfur gases, available zinc ions bind to protein receptors, disallowing new sulfur gas from being created. Zinc ion technology offers a long-term solution for bad breath.

Other Prevention/Solution

Brush your teeth a minimum of twice per day. Floss and rinse thoroughly with a mouthwash containing zinc. Have your teeth examined for tooth decay and get them professionally cleaned regularly, advises the American Dental Association. If cavities are found, have these filled as soon as possible since tooth decay can lead to bad breath. Eat a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and dairy while limiting your amount of sweets and acidic beverages.

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