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Boston Channel

20 July 2000

Before you eat those onions on your dinner salad — read this.

Did you know that you can’t smell your own breath? So, other than friends turning away from you, there’s no way to truly determine when it might need some freshening up.

To the rescue — a new electronic breath checker that fits into your pocket. NewsCenter 5’s Heather Kahn checked whether it works.

The product is called Breath Alert, and it is a monitor that measures compounds in the mouth which cause bad breath.

To use it you breathe into a sensor for three seconds and watch whether it registers no odor, slight odor, moderate odor or strong odor.

At dentist Jim Cinamon’s office the product was put to the test, with the results measured against the dentist’s professional bad breath detector, called a Halimeter®.

The professional machine indicated very fresh or normal breath, although the Breath Alert indicated bad breath.

During another test, with diners at Lucia’s restaurant in the North End, most diners registered strong odor.

They were given mints, and were tested again after a ten minute wait.

Only one diner showed improvement.

Dr. Cinamon says that while it’s a clever concept, Breath Alert seems to be too sensitive. He suggests you save your $30 dollars and rely on free advice.

“I think the best thing to do is ask a spouse or a family member or your dentist,” Cinamon said.

Most causes of bad breath aren’t serious — bacteria in the mouth, food, certain medications or poor oral hygiene. Sometimes, though, it may signal respiratory infections, diabetes or emphysema. If you have chronic bad breath, you should talk to your doctor.