How Are Breath Mints Like Lipstick on a Pig?


“Like putting lipstick on a pig.” That’s an older expression we’ve heard used to describe the futility of applying a quick fix with no regard for the underlying problem. It may seem like an improvement, albeit a temporary one. We’ve all experienced bad breath at least once in a lifetime, but we usually chalk it up to a particularly pungent meal and pop a breath mint. For others, however, halitosis is a common occurrence, often lingering long after brushing and flossing. Either way, bad breath is big business. In the United States alone, we spend a total of $500 million each year to maintain minty freshness. That’s a lot of lipstick! At Cornerstone Dental, we understand how embarrassing it is to have that less-than-fresh feeling. The good news? According to Dr. Ryan Hussong, who treats bad breath in Polk City, IA, oral malodor is treatable.

Is There Something Between My Teeth?

The vast majority of bad-breath-causing factors are directly related to the mouth and what lies within it. For someone who practices excellent hygiene, the odor of their last meal may linger briefly but can be eliminated with sugar-free gum or a quick brushing session. If your hygiene regimen leaves something to be desired, you aren’t likely to find relief from popping a breath mint. It isn’t what you’ve just eaten that caues the problem, but rather what you’ve eaten several days or even weeks ago. Neglecting to brush, floss, and rinse your mouth as recommended allows food and bacteria to coat your teeth and gums with plaque, a smelly, yellow film. Sulfur compounds produced by these bacteria are to blame for that distinctive odor. Long-term neglect of your hygiene leads to oral infections, particularly gum disease.

Bad Habits That Affect Your Breath

Diet and lifestyle can also cause unpleasant breath. Drinking excessive alcohol and chewing or smoking tobacco causes your mouth to become chronically dry, which increases your risk for halitosis and periodontal disease. Cigars and cigarettes add a distinct odor to your mouth, which can be extremely difficult to eliminate after years of heavy use. Those who wear dentures should be aware of the importance of maintaining their prosthetic properly. Failure to clean or remove dentures as recommended, or wearing dentures that no longer fit correctly, can both affect your breath.

Don’t Cover Up Bad Breath—Treat It

Breath sprays, strips, and mints may offer temporary respite from bad breath, but they are not an appropriate substitute for treatment. Using these products on occasion is acceptable, says Dr. Hussong, but the need to use them frequently suggests a potential oral health concern. If you do choose to use breath fresheners, opt for products that use xylitol in place of sugar.

Questions about treating bad breath in Polk City, IA? To learn more about preventive dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental Group at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients living in Alleman, Ames, Ankeny, Grimes, West Des Moines, and the surrounding communities. For the latest news and insights from our practice, follow us on Facebook.