Halitosis (Foetor ex Ore) is more commonly known as bad breath.

Watch Dental Video about Bad Breath

Bad breath is viewed as unpleasant or repulsive and is considered a deal-breaker in society as well as in the search for a partner.

It’s all the more remarkable then that, according to estimates, every fourth adult in Europe has bad breath every now and then. About every fifteenth person permanently exudes bad breath. Thus, it would be appropriate to bring this to the attention of “smelly” people. However, doing so embarrasses most people.

Why is this? It’s similar to excessive foot or underarm perspiration: Many are afflicted, but nobody wants to talk about it openly. Anybody suffering from these problems is expected to see a doctor! For a long time, bad breath was neglected in dentistry; only in the last four to five years has awareness of this topic been raised among trainees. And this is necessary and useful, because in nine out of ten cases, the cause of bad breath is found in the oral cavity.

Where does bad breath come from?

Besides bad dental care and inflamed gums, coating of the tongue is the most frequent cause of bad breath. Bacteria that spread bad smells can settle on the tongue; cleaning the tongue with a scraper or with a toothbrush takes care of this problem. Stress can also cause bad breath because it decreases the flow of saliva. Odor-producing bacteria thrive in a dry mouth.

Many business people perform great dental care, but they have bad breath. The reason: They are under pressure and drink too much coffee, which dries out the mouth. The remedy is simple: Drink a lot of water and eat juicy fruits.

Bad Breath - HalitosisAre there reliable self-tests?

Yes and no. The airbag method is the most likely to work: Take an odorless plastic bag and blow it full of air. When doing so, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Then close the bag. In order to sharpen the sense of smell, take a walk in the fresh air or smell freshly ground coffee or an espresso. Then release the air from the bag in front of your nose. The “wrist licking method” is often recommended as well: Vigorously lick the back of the wrist with the tongue and then smells it.

However, this can only provide clues about bad breath if the tongue is the cause. One thing that is definitely a waste of time is breathing into one’s hand and taking a sniff. The only really reliable method is to ask a friend: “Do I have bad breath?”

Are lozenges and mouth rinses useful?

There is no lack of resources: Sprays, gurgling rinses, chlorophyll tablets, and peppermint lozenges that are placed on the tongue are available to supposedly combat bad breath. They cover up the smell for a short time, but don’t remove the cause. However, a person suffering from a dry mouth can use sugar-free chewing gum or candy. Although these don’t remove the cause of the bad breath, they promote saliva production. Thus, mouth rinses, disinfecting solutions, Odol, Meridol, and chewing gums are not able to remove bad breath on a permanent basis!

First, one has to determine whether it is bad breath (foetor ex ore) or bad-smelling air exhaled by an individual (halitosis)! Bad-smelling air exhaled by an individual (halitosis) may point towards:

  • Lung diseases
  • Diseases of the esophagus
  • Intestinal diseases
  • Liver diseases
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus

A mouth rinse – even one that gets an excellent rating in comparative product tests – cannot influence this smell. As always, only remedying the actual causes can bring relief. Remedies include addressing diabetes mellitus or treating a stomach ulcer. Mouth rinses and the like are useless. If you suffer from bad breath (foetor ex ore), then mouth rinses are hardly effective here either. As always, treating the symptoms (bad smell) is useless. The root cause has to be identified. These can include, for example:

  • periodontitis
  • leaking crown margins
  • leaky fillings
  • caries
  • tonsils
  • tumors
  • infections of the paranasal sinuses

As soon as a diagnosis has been established, the cause(s) is (are) treated and then the symptom – “bad breath” – disappears by itself. A good dentist recognizes these differences; a mouth rinse just costs money and does little or nothing to improve the situation!

Click here to see the video: Bad Breath


This post is also available in: German

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