Does a smaller waist mean smelly breath?

CHICAGO—As summer approaches, many consumers wanting to slim down are jumping on the low-carbohydrate diet trend in an attempt to lose weight. About 10 million Americans are on a low-carb/high protein diet at any given time. However, as dieters shed pounds, many are saying good-bye to carbs and hello to halitosis. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) offers advice for dieters on battling bad breath.

Low-carb diets work by limiting the amount of carbohydrates ingested, which allows the body to burn stored fat instead of carbohydrates. When the body burns fat as fuel, ketones are developed. These ketones are released in the breath and urine and may result in halitosis. Ketones aren’t the only bad breath culprit for this diet. The types of foods ingested also play a role.

“Most cases of bad breath originate from the breakdown of food particles that produce sulfur compounds, and from bacteria on the gums and tongue,” says AGD spokesman Bruce DeGinder, DDS, MAGD. “High protein foods can produce more sulfur compounds, especially overnight on the surface of the tongue when saliva production is diminished.”

The AGD offers consumers tips to combat halitosis and maintain good oral health.

1. Drink water to wash away germs

Drinking plenty of water can help dilute the concentration of ketones, but that isn’t the only benefit. Drinking water throughout the day can help cleanse teeth of excess bacteria and food debris. Bad breath can sometimes be caused by food particles caught in the teeth and drinking water will help rinse away odor-causing particles.

2. Chew sugarless gum with xylitol

Chewing sugarless gum after meals can help keep bad breath away. Saliva production increases during chewing and this can help neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from the mouth. Chewing parsley can have the same effect since it also increases saliva production.

Sugar-free gum with xylitol can also help bad breath while preventing cavities. Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in plants and fruits. Research shows it inhibits the growth of streptococcus mutans, the oral bacteria that cause cavities.

3. Keep a toothbrush handy and brush after all meals

Brushing and flossing at least twice a day can help keep your mouth healthy and prevent odors. An AGD survey found 75 percent of people eat at the office but less than 15 percent of them brush their teeth after eating. Cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper after meals can also help alleviate odors.

If halitosis continues, a general dentist or doctor can help determine the source of the odor. Halitosis can sometimes have more serious causes.

“Ketone breath is also used to describe a fruity smell on the breath which can be an indication that the person may have diabetes,” says Dr. DeGinder. “This can originate when the body is breaking down fat particles because there is not sufficient glucose present as fuel for energy.”

For additional information on halitosis and proper oral health care, visit the AGD’s Web site, To locate a dentist in your area or request a free oral and overall health care brochure, consumers across the U.S. and Canada can call toll-free to 1-877-292-9327.

The AGD is a non-profit organization of more than 37,000 general dentists dedicated to staying up-to-date in the profession through continuing education. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to patient’s oral health needs.

From the April 27-May 3, 2005, issue

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