Hands up if you have ever been around someone with bad breath? Perhaps at work, at the shops, at home? Maybe, even, that person is yourself! I certainly have. If you have never done the “lick test”, to smell what your breath is like then give it a try now. Firstly, put down that cup of coffee you have and get both hands free. Secondly, make sure no one is around, its like getting changed, a lot of people find this embarrassing and disgusting, but hey, its your own breath! Next I want you to lick, by dragging the whole of your tongue up the back of your hand. (If you put your palm facing the floor, then you lick the side where your knuckles are). Yes, that’s right, coat the back of your hand in your own saliva, go on, it’s the only way you can test your breath. Have you done it yet? Once you have done that, then leave it be for 20seconds. Tick, tick tick. 20 seconds later, go back to it and smell it. That is the smell of your own breath. Well, are you still alive? Or do you now want to go and by a gas mask? Or are you now embarrassed now you know what others are putting up with when you talk with them? If you want to beat bad breath, then read on.
The medical term for bad breath is Halitosis, and is an unpleasant odour from your mouth. In most cases, its caused from bacteria in your mouth breaking down organic substrates (food). The main product are whats called VSC’s (volatile sulphur-containing compounds).
Halitosis can be classified into:
- Genuine halitosis (either oral – from the mouth or non oral – elsewhere in your gut)
- Pseudo- halitosis (others can not perceive it, but you are adamant it is present)
- Halitophobia (there is no physical or social evidence suggesting its presence, but you persist that you have bad breath)
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on genuine halitosis.
The available methods leading to lowering of oral malodour level can be divided into:
1. Masking the smell – mouth rinses, breath sprays, mints. This is like putting on perfume, but not having a shower! You must shower first and then put on perfume right?
2. Getting rid of the bacteria by brushing, and flossing, and using a tongue scraper, and getting a professional scale and clean. If the bugs are there and are not removed in the first place then you will NEVER get rid of the smell. Do this FIRST!
3. Using special chemicals in mouth rinses to control the bacteria – short term use of chlorhexidine and hydrogen peroxides have proven to be very effective
4. If after diligent use of the above techniques, it is still a problem, then a diagnosis of non-oral halitosis is made and a referral to a specialist like an otorhinolaryngologist is required.
Now, go your homework is to go and tell all your friends about the “lick test”. (Be sure that they lick their OWN hand, not yours…)