Yes – but only in the short-term, says Dr Leong Hon Chiew from Dr HC Leong Dental Surgeon ( Still, pick your mints carefully, he says, as most are packed with a high sugar content, which actually encourages oral bacteria growth that can cause bad breath. The worst time to take mints: after dinner. “Often, people who take after-dinner mints will not drink water for a while, as they won’t want to lose that ‘fresh’ feeling,” says Dr Leong. “This dries out the mouth and throat, further encouraging bacterial growth.”

But if you must suck on a breath mint, Dr Leong says to look for oral strips. They dissolve faster and, hence, the sugar in them spends less time in contact with your teeth, potentially lessening the possibility of tooth decay.

SWEET-LESS MINTS What about mints that tout they’re sugar-free? Dr Leong Hon Chiew from Dr HC Leong Dental Surgeon has his doubts. “Xylitol is not a sugar, and is less damaging than sugar, but it is still a nutrient source for bacteria,” he says. Peppermint oil is also usually present, but it provides no antibacterial properties. It has a pleasant aroma that counts for its usefulness as a breath freshener. However, breath mints can’t be counted as part of the oral health regime. “In most cases, they don’t do any harm, but mints could make already

present halitosis issues much worse,” he says.