Dr. Kadile, I’m always worried that I have bad breath. What is the best type of gum to prevent this? -Victor, Desert Hot Springs

Victor, several preventive measures should be taken before using gum for bad breath (halitosis). A variety of things, including diet, medication, lifestyle and poor oral hygiene can cause bad breath. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing will help prevent bad breath. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too. Obviously be aware that certain foods such as onions, garlic and curry can contribute to bad breath.

Keep your mouth moist by drinking a lot of water. Add to the already long list of why smoking is bad because that disgusting habit obviously causes bad breath.

Gum and breath mints were always thought to just mask a person’s bad breath, but a recent study funded by Wrigley, showed that certain flavored gum may actually eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath. Several plant essential oils kill the germs that cause cavities and bad breath. Some germs in the mouth produce hydrogen sulfite, which has a bad odor. The study found that unflavored gum had no effect. Chewing Big Red, decreased the odor causing germs by 50%, because the gum contains cinnamon oil, a known germ killer. Chewing a different flavor of gum, other than cinnamon, resulted in a 42% reduction in hydrogen-sulfite-emitting germs, probably because the different flavors used different types of plant essential oils.

So Victor, go for the cinnamon flavored gum.

Dr. Peter, I know I should avoid garlic or onions to prevent bad breath, but are there any foods I can eat to help reduce bad breath? -Julie, Palm Springs


Julie, chewing on parsley or mint can prevent bad breath. Other herbs such as coriander, spearmint, tarragon, eucalyptus and rosemary are beneficial halitosis fighters. Yogurt with live cultures reduce odor causing bacteria in your mouth. Fiber rich fruits and vegetables such as, apples, carrots and celery increase saliva production which decreases halitosis. Vitamin C rich foods like berries and citrus fruits create an oral environment that limits bacteria growth, thus reducing bad breath.

Dr. Kadile, is “the hair of the dog” really effective for hangovers? -Terry, Indio

Terry, “hair of the dog” refers to drinking more alcohol within 24 hours, to help reduce or alleviate a hangover. The phrase originated in Europe where it was thought that treatment of a rabid dog bite included placing some of the dog’s hair into the bite wound.

Terry, drinking additional alcohol will just delay the inevitable, so no, it is not effective for eliminating a hangover.