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Tampa Tribune


By Erika Hayasaki
The Tampa Tribune (15 July 2000)

A dental hygienist finds success in dealing with the business of bad breath.

It’s easy to make jokes about people with stinky breath.

But for the estimated 30 million people who suffer from halitosis, or bad breath, it’s no laughing matter.

Trudy Frank, a registered dental hygienist for 29 years, said it can be humiliating. She started the Fresh Breath Centre in Town ‘N Country five years ago to help.

“People are very embarrassed to come here. Some of the people have said to me, “I’ve tried everything I could before I had to come in here,’ ” Frank said. “It’s a sensitive issue.”

There are misconceptions about bad breath, she said.

“I’ve had patients that were taught that if they brushed and flossed well, they wouldn’t have mouth odor. That’s just not true,” she said.

Popping breath mints every five minutes and gargling mouthwash after meals doesn’t kill the smell either. They provide relief for about 20 minutes, then the odor comes back.

And it’s hard to smell your own breath. The blowing into your hand trick doesn’t always work.

“People can’t tell for themselves if they have very bad breath because we’re used to odors that our body produces,” Frank said.

That’s where the Fresh Breath Centre come in. The Halimeter®, a machine that tests breath, will help determine where the odor is coming from—the mouth, nostrils or lungs.

The Halimeter® tests sulfur levels, the compound that creates the odor.

If the problem is in the nose or lungs, it may be disease- related. That would require a physician’s care outside of the Fresh Breath Centre.

But 80 percent of halitosis cases, or bad breath, come from the mouth, she said. That’s the area the center specializes in.

There are products that clean and deodorize, but the key is learning what works for each person.

“Unless they know where the odor source is, they can’t get to the odor,” Frank said.

At the center, patients learn how to clean the problem area and test their breath.

Flavorized over-the-counter rinses may make bad breath worse because they cause dry-mouth. Drier mouths tend to have more sulfur, which means more bad odor. Snoring and breathing through the mouth also causes dryness.

“When they use mouth rinses, yes, they kill bacteria. But dead bacteria tends to give a worse odor,” she said.

Stress, eating and drinking habits or reactions to medicine may also cause bad breath.

It costs $65 for an evaluation at the clinic, and it can run from $35 to $235 for treatment.