Fact or Fiction

We are exposed to a mind-boggling amount of information every day. Whatever its origin, be it from other people, the media or the internet, it has varying degrees of relevance, importance and accuracy. However, much of this information makes its way into our culture where it is rapidly circulated and frequently assumed reliable.

Everyone has their own beliefs and ways of quantifying information but sometimes it can be difficult for some of us and indeed patients, to separate the facts from fiction. Take the sensitive subject of unpleasant smelling breath as an example: there is a significant amount of dubious information surrounding the subject of our breath, which can at times cause confusion or even danger.

For example, a common misconception is that oral malodour originates in the stomach. Of course this is only true on rare occasions when unpleasant smelling breath can be derived from a stomach or digestive problem such as acid reflex disease or conditions that cause chronic vomiting or indigestion. Others patients may believe that halitosis is hereditary but as dental professionals will be aware, while certain hereditary conditions could possibly contribute to unpleasant smelling breath, there is no isolated gene for halitosis itself that can be passed on to our offspring.

Over the ages there has also been a whole host of suggestions for curing oral malodour, including repulsive concoctions such as the head of a hare, mouse bones and even earthworms marinated in vinegar. More recently, eating or swilling the mouth with honey, parsley, cinnamon, yoghurt or natural oils have been supported to counteract oral bacteria or to release odour-fighting powers in the mouth. Most people understand that strong foods such as garlic and onions or lifestyle choices such as smoking or drinking alcohol, can cause malodourous breath. However, if unpleasant oral odour persists it can have very significant effects, which can impact on a sufferers psychological and social well being. It has the potential to cause extreme embarrassment and some patients may become so self-conscious about the condition that they may reach for one of the more perilous remedies suggested on the internet, such as diluted bleach!

A dental professional can dispel the myths that surround unpleasant breath and educate you with sound facts, instructions and clinically proven products. In around 85% of cases, halitosis originates in the oral cavity and insufficient dental hygiene, tongue coating or intraoral conditions are most often the source. Oral malodour occurs when malodorous gases called Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSCs) are produced; a by-product that occurs when the enzymes in anaerobic bacteria break down amino acids in the mouth. In most cases, these gases can be expelled in the breath without detection, however a perfectly healthy mouth can still produce malodourous gases, because although it is yet to be scientifically explained, some people simply produce more anaerobic bacteria than others.

The market is saturated with products including peppermints and antibacterial mouthwashes that claim to combat oral malodour but many are only capable of temporarily masking the problem. You will in fact gain significantly more benefit from incorporating a daily mouth rinse that is able to neutralise the VSCs that bacteria produce rather working on the bacteria themselves. CB12 mouth rinse, for example, has been developed by dentists and has been proven in clinical trials to perform more effectively than 18 other well-known European oral healthcare products. Not only does it effectively target VSCs to prevent oral malodour immediately, but it also chemically binds to the tissues of the mouth enabling its effects to last for up to 12 hours.

¹Findings, Diagnoses and Results of a Halitosis Clinic over a Seven year Period. Zürcher, A., Filippi, A. Dept of Oral Surgery. University of Basel. Schweiz Monatsschr Zahnmed. Vol. 122; 3/2012. https://www.sso.ch/fileadmin/pubmed/smfz-2012-03-02.pdf 

²Curd ML Bollen and Thomas Beikler. Halitosis: the multidisciplinary approach. International Journal of Oral Science (2012) 4, 55–63; doi:10.1038/ijos.2012.39; published online 22 June 2012. www.nature.com/ijos/journal/v4/n2/full/ijos201239a.html 

³Thrane PS, et al, Dental Health 2009; 48(3):8-12.

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