Useful Tips

Four myths about bad breath


Our experienced team of editors and researchers contributed to this article and tested it for accuracy and completeness.

The number of sources used in this article is 8. You will find a list of them at the bottom of the page.

The wikiHow content management team carefully monitors the work of editors to ensure that each article meets our high quality standards.

Sometimes it is very difficult and embarrassing to tell a friend or acquaintance that he has bad breath. The most difficult part in this matter is to gently bring the conversation to this topic, but at the same time not to hurt a person’s feelings and not to offend him, because you want to be honest and frank and try to help him. Regardless of whether a person knows about this problem, there are several ways to harmlessly and unsteadily hint to a person that he has bad breath.


The problem with this method is that breathing in your palm does not give the same smell that comes from your mouth when you are talking.

You won’t feel like your breath actually smells. The main place where an unpleasant smell comes from is the back of the tongue, and doctors have three ways to identify this problem.

Using their own sense of smell, they evaluate the patient’s breathing 5 cm from his face and the smell of a spoon, which was held on the surface of the tongue.

In addition, they examine the dental floss, which was cleaned between the back teeth, or the container with the patient's saliva, which was kept for five minutes in an incubator at a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius.

Hospitals may also have small monitoring monitors that can detect certain gases, but the problem is that they do not detect all gases.

The exact method is gas chromatography, which recognizes the components of complex gas mixtures and allows you to measure the amount of sulfur in the air. But it requires special equipment, which is not in every hospital.

In fact, not everyone who thinks that he smells badly from his mouth actually has such a smell.

Sometimes people simply misinterpret the behavior of their interlocutor, who turned away or moved away during a conversation.

In actual cases, halitosis (a term that summarizes all conditions in which a person’s breathing has a persistent unpleasant odor), people react differently.

In one study, it was found that only 27% are inclined to move away from the interlocutor, if that person smells badly from his mouth.

What proportion of people in general has this unpleasant problem is not exactly known. Data range from 22 to 50%.


Volatile sulfur compounds give bad breath. The most unpleasant of them - carbon sulfide, which has a pronounced smell of rotten eggs, and ethantiol, smelling like rotting cabbage.

It is these compounds that give the urine of some people a pungent smell after they ate asparagus.

Such compounds are released when food and bacteria accumulate in the grooves on the back of the tongue.

The good news is that this phenomenon is usually temporary and only occurs if you eat garlic or raw onions, and also after coffee or cigarettes.

However, in seven out of ten cases, dental problems, such as gum disease or plaque on the tongue, become the cause of halitosis.

Of course, sometimes other bad breath can accompany other diseases, such as diseases of the ear, nose and throat, kidneys, lungs or intestines.

But in this case, you are likely to feel other symptoms.

MYTH 3: Mouthwash will always help you to get rid of bad breath

The first thing many people do if they suspect they have bad breath is to rinse their mouths.

Mint or clove rinse, as well as a variety of antiseptic products hide the smell, but only for a short time.

They eliminate bacteria that cause the release of malodorous compounds. And it is really effective for a certain time.

Alcohol rinses dry the oral cavity, which can only increase the unpleasant odor.

That is why drinking more water during the day has a positive effect: water washes away food debris and prevents dry mouth.

The British branch of the international non-profit organization that is studying the effectiveness of medical technology, Cochrane Collaboration, is currently conducting a review of studies on effective means of combating bad breath.

In a previous review of 2008, the top five studies showed that the rinse is partially eliminated by rinsing agents containing antibacterial substances, for example, chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride, as well as chloride or zinc dioxide.

But the authors of the review noted that more research is needed to confirm these findings.

To eliminate an unpleasant odor, it is also advised to clean the tongue with a special brush. The latest Cochrane review just showed that the effect of such cleaning is indeed there, but it is short-lived.

Researchers also warned that when cleaning the tongue, one should not put too much pressure on the brush so as not to damage its surface. And it’s best to choose a soft brush.


In the oral cavity of every adult at a certain moment contains from 100 to 200 types of bacteria.

Now that we have realized the positive role of the human microbiome and millions of bacteria in our body, scientists began to study not the ways to destroy microbes, but the creation of the most healthy combination of them.

To do this, you need to eliminate some bacteria and support others, which can be achieved using probiotics.

In the course of research, scientists tried to get rid of harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay, using a gel and a coating for the teeth that were applied in the clinic, as well as special strips that patients could use on their own.

Perhaps soon we will be able to get rid of bacteria that cause bad breath in the same way.

But while researchers are working on this, doctors, as before, advise thoroughly brushing your teeth with a brush and floss, drink plenty of water, do not smoke, eat balanced, and if the first signs of gum inflammation appear, immediately consult a doctor.

Read original This article in English is available on the website Bbc future.