Monthly cramping, bloating, mood swings, headaches, edginess. Most women are all too familiar with these less-than-enjoyable aspects of our "femaleness." And as if these aren't enough, apparently we can add bad breath to the list, according to John Richter, D.M.D., Ph.D., founder of the Center for the Treatment of Breath Disorders in Pennsylvania.
Richter said that during the premenstrual period, hormone fluctuations in a woman's body result in an increase in the production of proteins in the saliva. It seems that the anaerobic bacteria in your mouth, the ones that can live without oxygen, love to feast on this protein. And as they feast, they reproduce with reckless abandon, releasing gases that cause bad breath.
Additionally, the rise in estrogen that occurs at the onset of menstruation triggers the shedding of the body's lining tissues, including those of the mouth, again creating ideal conditions for bacterial growth.
So what can you do to battle premenstrual bad breath? Diligence with your oral hygiene —daily brushing, flossing and tongue scraping—will certainly help to clean away food particles that can turn into another food source for bad-breath-causing bacteria. To minimize the growth of the bacteria responsible for bad breath, a chlorine dioxide mouth rinse can help. Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as these can dry out your mouth, actually worsening bad breath instead of eliminating it! Just check the label; if there's alcohol in the mouth rinse, it will be listed among the ingredients.
Here are a few other ways to reduce your chances of premenstrual bad breath:
- Brush after eating or drinking anything other than water. If this isn't possible, rinse with water or a chlorine dioxide mouth rinse.
- Saliva has been called "nature's mouthwash." Stimulate saliva flow by chewing sugarless gum.
- Avoid gum, mints or other candies that contain sugar, as this can lead to the growth of decay-causing bacteria.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist, and avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee, tea and cola.