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The Manila Bulletin

Oral cavity is main cause of bad breath

20 October 2003

Did you know that most cases of “oral malodor” or halitosis, more commonly known as “bad breath” are caused by the many types of bacteria that live in the mouth?

Data provided by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, maker of the revolutionary Listerine PocketPaks oral care tips, show that approximately 85 percent of bad breath cases originates in the oral cavity.

It is estimated that there are over 400 different types of bacteria that live in the mouth. These bacteria feed on bits of food left on the teeth and tongue after meals. Feasting on these “leftovers” these bacteria produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), thus, giving breath a foul smell.

Certain foods such as garlic and onions contribute to bad breath, according to the Pfizer data.

Once the food is absorbed in the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs where it is expelled and the odors can continue until the body eliminates the food from its system.

“Oral malodor” or “halitosis” can also be traced to activity in the nose and the stomach, but contrary to popular belief, bad breath originating in the stomach is rare.

Poor oral hygiene is also another cause of bad breath. While it takes two to three minutes to adequately brush the teeth, most people spend less than 30 seconds brushing.

The Pfizer study data also points to xerostomia or “dry mouth” as one of the most common causes of bad breath as the condition allows uncontrollable growth of bacteria that cause “morning breath.”

Hormonal changes that occur during menstruation and ovulation can also contribute to bad breath.

Bad breath can also be traced to gum disease, dieting (as infrequent eating causes unpleasant breath), certain medications and disorders that can lead to a dry mouth, use of alcohol and tobacco products, medical disorders like sinus infection, postnasal drip, and respiratory infections, hunger, and age.

Unfortunately, common “do-it-yourself-tests” don’t work in determining or finding remedy for oral malodor. Some dentists measure breath odor using a Halimeter®, where a patient blows into a strawlike tube connected to a machine that detects the levels of sulfur compounds in the breath.

Regardless of what the cause of bad breath may be, good oral hygiene is essential in helping control bad breath. Brushing twice a day and cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners is important. Brushing one’s tongue is also recommended to remove additional odor-causing bacteria.

However, these oral hygiene requirements may not always be possible especially for people who live very busy lifestyles.

As a solution, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, recently introduced in the local market the new Cool Mint Listerine PocketPaks oral care strips, a revolutionary, portable oral care product, to help consumers have a clean mouth feeling anytime, anywhere. These are translucent, ultra-thin strips that dissolve instantly on the tongue, killing 99.9 percent of odor causing bacteria within 30 seconds, and last for up to 90 minutes.