So many things can cause bad breath - the foods you eat, the beverages you drink, the way you sleep, the alcohol in your mouthwash, the sugar in your mints - that sometimes it seems like all there is to fall back on is a good teeth whitening toothpaste. But, believe it or not, even some toothpastes can cause halitosis.
Et tu, Brute? Even you, my beloved toothpaste??
Yes - particularly if you don't buy the specialty kind. Here's why.
1. The ingredients can dry you out. While specialty teeth whitening toothpastes are formulated to brighten your pearly whites and moisten your mouth, cheaper brands can do just the opposite. Some toothpastes contain small amounts of alcohol, which can dry out your tongue, leaving bacteria free to multiply. And a few baking-soda-heavy pastes can suck away moisture so badly that you need to gulp water afterward.
2. Detergents irritate the gums. Specialty toothpastes avoid using sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and for good reason. This detergent gets added to inferior products to make them bubble, but what it ends up doing is irritating the sensitive tissues of the mouth, causing canker sores and oral odor.
3. And then there's the pesticide. That's right - the antimicrobial compound triclosan is also an insecticide, one whose inclusion in toothpastes is viewed with suspicion by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
4. Finally, some toothpastes contain sand. To be fair, this ingredient only makes your mouth feel dry and sandy, but still... In some teeth whitening toothpastes, a key ingredient is silica, which is literally the main component of, get this, sand. Other pastes use mica shards, but the effect is the same: a dry, granular mouthfeel that's hard to get rid of.
Fortunately, there's a quick fix: Toss out your cheaply made paste and look for a specialty breath freshening (and teeth whitening!) toothpaste. The best ones use oxygenating ingredients while avoiding irritants and harsh chemicals, leaving your mouth moist, clean and sweet-smelling.
To kick it up another notch, add an alcohol-free mouthwash to the mix. Such a rinse will oxygenate your tongue and target bad breath producing bacteria, all without using palate-drying alcohol to get the job done.