The Connection between Proteins and Bad Breath

Have you noticed that dieters subscribing to a high protein diet that is low in carbohydrates appear to have significantly worse breath than those who do not partake in this kind of caloric intake? Considering that common wisdom dictates a connection between sugars (carbohydrates) and bacterial action in the mouth leading to bad breath, it appears initially somewhat baffling to see so many high protein diet devotees covering up their mouths.

Of course, once you take a closer look at the digestion process that goes on in the mouth, the connection between high protein food and heightened bad breath quickly becomes obvious.

High protein diets are rich in eggs, milk products, and of course meats. Since the digestion process begins in the mouth and involves the use of anaerobic bacteria, the breakdown of such protein rich food logically comes with the emission of waste products by these very bacteria.

The waste products generated by bacteria in the mouth are known as volatile sulfur compounds and abbreviated as VSC. There is not only one kind of sulfuric compound, but instead it is a mix of a variety of different members of this chemical family. In case you are wondering, two such participating chemicals are putrescine, a compound associated with the decay of meat, and cadaverine, a similar compound that is a lot more malodorous.

The more protein there is in the diet of a person, the more protein digesting bacteria will be found in her or his mouth. Those ingesting a normal diet that is sufficiently balanced also have these sulfur compounds in their mouths, but due to the fact that the breakdown of proteins is significantly less, the smell is far less obvious.
Plaque that forms in the mouth of someone with a high consumption of protein will be significantly laden with such bacteria, and the result is a film of bacteria in the mouth that are beyond the reach of the toothbrush and oral rinse.

Eating a balanced diet will reverse this process. In addition, visiting a dental hygienist to have plaque and other buildup removed also cuts down on the number of bacteria causing the odor emissions. Lastly, practicing daily oral hygiene and including the tongue is a vital component of reducing and reversing the presence of bacteria emitting sulfur compounds as part of the food digestion process.

Not too many people consider the inclusion of the tongue a natural extension of their daily oral hygiene regimen. Granted, there are copious means available on the market: there are tongue scrapers, toothbrushes that include a little lip on the back for scraping the tongue, and even soft bristle brushes specifically designed for the purpose of tongue cleaning are available.

What makes it a somewhat laborious exercise is the fact that tongue cleansing requires a gentle touch and some trial and error, since the gag reflex is rather easily triggered during this procedure. Of course, considering that the only alternative is suffering through bad breath and seeking to mask the offensive odors with temporary solutions, there is a lot of motivation for trying to learn the best ways possible or cleansing the tongue.