Does gum really fight bad breath?

Many people chew gum to help with their bad breath, but does it actually change anything or just mask it?

We have all had them, the boss or co-worker that has coffee breath and it’s just painful. Constantly offering them gum doesn’t seem to do the trick. But would it help anyways?

The trick lies in your spit, which is what’s responsible for cleaning your mouth out and keeping things tidy. It also has the benefit of washing bacteria away. So if you have a lack of spit, then you have more bacteria. Gums that have a strong scent are able to cover up the odor, but what they do is help you create more saliva. The more saliva you have, the more ability you have to wash away the smell creating bacteria.

There are also some ingredients in gum that can actively target bad breath bacteria. Many of the flavors that occur naturally are great at fighting and killing bacteria, like cinnamon, spearmint, peppermint, and many tea flavors. So if you can find gum that uses actual oil, then they are going to have the best chance. One of the recommended gums out there is Big Red, it is supposed to contain natural oils which seem to have the best chance at fighting bad breath. Here is the ingredient list of Big Red:

  • SUGAR
  • GUM BASE
  • CORN SYRUP
  • NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS
  • LESS THAN 2% OF
    • GLYCEROL
    • ASPARTAME-ACESULFAME
    • GUM ARABIC
    • SOY LECITHIN
    • MANNITOL
    • HYDROXULATED SOY LECITHIN
    • ACESULFAME K
    • COLORS (RED 40 LAKE, BLUE 1 LAKE)
    • SUCRALOSE
    • BHT (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS)
    • PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE.

That list sounds a little scary so your mileage may vary if you want to chew it or not. Not much natural in there!  Well it does say “Natural flavors”.

But the best bet to fight bad breath is to have a flossing/cleaning habit at least twice daily. If that’s not possible, chewing gum throughout the day can mask bad breath, but it’s not going to fix it permanently.