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Bad Breath: Who Is a Candidate?

eBody  (16 September 2003)

One of the biggest problems with chronic bad breath is determining if you have it. Unless you have just finished a meal of garlic and onions or just gotten up after a long sleep, you probably can’t tell whether your breath is sour. Many people believe they can smell their own breath by cupping their hands over their mouth, but in fact, you cannot assess your breath by doing this. Our bodies become desensitized to odors we produce regularly, so that we are incapable of recognizing our own smells. In addition, bad breath is often only evident when you are speaking.

When you talk, air is forced through the mouth at a much greater pressure, picking up odors residing in the back of the mouth. Therefore, the quality of your breath can be significantly different when you are talking than when you are just breathing. The only true way to tell if your breath is a problem is to ask someone you trust.

Dentists can use a device called a Halimeter® to monitor your halitosis. The Halimeter®, when properly used, is a good tool for monitoring the progress of treatment for bad breath. The Halimeter by itself cannot always confirm the existence of bad breath, but the dentist can use it to determine your level of volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs). Once that is determined, he/she can then monitor the progress of your treatment using the Halimeter®.

A dentist is the best source for help regarding halitosis. He/she can assess the cause of your problem and rule out oral cancer, infections or systemic problems that can contribute to bad breath. Once the dentist determines the cause, he/she can monitor the progress of your treatment.