The arrival of summer may mean many things. Vacations, trips to the beach and backyard barbecues are at the top of the list for many people. However, warmer, more humid weather can cause dehydration which may lead to bad breath, among other conditions.
Mary Olszyk, director of VA Maryland Healthcare System, said that cases of dehydration skyrocket during the summer months, and that dry mouth is one of the first indicators of the condition.
"In the heat of all the fun, it's important to pay close attention to your body and to the environment to avoid hidden dangers," she said.
One of those dangers is bad breath. Dehydration can cause halitosis because bacteria that live in the mouth tend to multiply as the mouth dries out. Many of these bacteria are harmless, but some can be the source of stubborn halitosis. Dehydration causes a decrease in the production of saliva which fights many of these bacteria.
Additionally, individuals who get dehydrated generally do not drink much water. Drinking water can help reduce the risk of bad breath because it rinses the mouth of food particles between brushings. These food particles often linger between teeth and along the gum-line and can be the source of unpleasant aromas.
Olszyk also recommended avoiding alcoholic drinks and caffeinated beverages like coffee. In addition to exacerbating dehydration, these drinks are also known to contribute to bad breath. Drinking them in a dehydrated state can make it even more difficult for individuals to end their bad breath.
The signs of dehydration include dizziness, weakness and muscles cramps, as well as dry mouth. Individuals who begin experiencing these symptoms may want to consider getting out of the sun and drinking some water.
Many people view the summer as a time for outdoor activities. The warmer months are a good time for hiking, camping and recreational sports. Exposure to the sun during these activities can worsen dehydration. The use of sunscreen with a high SPF may help individuals avoid this danger.
Dry mouth is one of the main causes of halitosis, according to the Mayo Clinic. Staying properly hydrated during the summer months may be one key to avoiding bad breath. However, individuals who experience persistent bad breath may want to consider looking into specialty breath-freshening products.