Coffee May Actually Improve Your Breath

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Is there anything more olfactorily uncomfortable than a close-up conversation with a colleague who’s just downed a hot cup of coffee? We shudder at the stinky thought! But if surprising new findings hold true, “coffee breath” may soon have a much more positive connotation.

At last month’s meeting of the International Society for Breath Odor Research, Israeli scientist Mel Rosenberg presented the results of a study that didn’t go exactly as planned. Just like most people, Rosenberg thought coffee causes bad breath, and he expected that to be reflected in his in vitro saliva experiment. But according to the Tel Aviv University professor, “there is something inside this magic brew that has the opposite effect.”

That “something” is a bacteria-inhibiting molecule, which Rosenberg hopes to extract from coffee for new, more effective kinds of gum, mints and mouthwash.

So what is it that makes breath so foul after your favorite java? Rosenberg says that, when prepared as a beverage, coffee has a dehydrating effect, and becomes especially potent when mixed with fermenting milk. Soon, however, the solution may be to pop a coffee-based antibacterial mint in your mouth, stopping odor instead of masking it with a minty flavor.

Now if only scientists would discover that coffee also whitens teeth!

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