Huffpost Healthy Living
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Dr. Harold Katz Headshot

New Science In the World of Bad Breath

Posted: Updated:

While bad breath has been around pretty much as long as man has, research in the science world continues to find out what is behind bad breath and how to fix it -- not to mention new advances in technology. Here are some articles highlighting what's going on in the field of studying bad breath.

Truth be told, there are tons of devices already out there (many of which we've talked about) but there continues to be an interest in inventing new ones. A report found in the Journal of Sensors and Acutators B: Chemical, discusses a new device that uses sound waves and crystals to find halitosis. The details of this new tool are somewhat complex, but in short it has a piezoelectric crystal that is chemically coated, an acoustic wave sensor and a tube that is kept cold via liquid nitrogen.

How does this work for the tester? The person blows into the tube, his or her breath is collected and the water vapor is frozen and removed. Then, the remnants pass over the crystals and the remaining gases are examined for fluctuations in compounds. These researchers tried this new contraption on quite a few volunteers and found that it was especially accurate in detecting halitosis (bad breath) for those that have chronic gum disease -- which is already known to cause foul breath.

Is this device going to be on the market any time soon? We're not sure, but why wait for it? Curb any chance of getting bad breath by following a thorough oral hygiene routine with quality oral care products.

While there's no doubt that our noses will alert us to a case of funky-smelling breath, some studies say that electronic devices may be better at detecting bad breath and with better accuracy. A fairly well-known device called a halimeter is currently used to detect volatile sulfur compounds (a cause of halitosis) on one's breath by measuring them near one's tongue. If you don't have difficulties smelling (anosmia) your nose should work in the same way, the only difference is that a halimeter will give you a quantifiable measurement which can be helpful in determining just how bad one's breath is.

While many research teams still use their own noses to discover bad breath (organoleptically) these is an increase use in halimeters in studies to ensure experiments are accurate and detailed. Evidence of this is the study of the beneficial effects of alcohol-free antimicrobial oral rinses published in the Journal of Electronic Noses and Olfaction, 2000. What do these teams of scientists still suggest? If bad breath is a chronic issue for you, consider trying specialty oral care products that won't just cover up oral odor but actually eliminate it.

Just like the rest of us, dentists typically don't need any sophisticated instruments to detect when a patient has bad breath. However, dentists are turning to more advanced options to find other dental diseases. The Journal of Virtual Reality has published a study that talks about a simulation-based way for teaching dentists how to find and fix periodontal disease. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, isn't just a cause for bad breath but can also lead to loss of teeth and recession of the gums themselves. This report states that there is now a virtual reality system that uses 3D medical animations, stereoscopic goggles and touch-based sensors to teach future and active dentists about periodontitis -- an advanced form of gum disease. This technology is used to carefully examine deep into the gums themselves.

Periodontal or gum disease isn't as rare as you might think. The Department of Health and Human Resources' Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Data Resource Center estimates that over 5 percent of 20-year-old and older adults have "severe destructive periodontitis." Rather than risk the health of your gums and teeth, if you are dealing with any form of gum disease, speak with your dentist about treatment and also try using oral care products that focus on gum care.

Can even robots have bad breath? Sort of. Hanako, the Japanese dental training dummy, can simulate oral and dental problems many of us face, like bad breath. The sci-fi website Dvice states that the robotics company Tmsuk worked with scientist from many Japanese universities to give birth to Hanako. It is a life-like robot that serves as the students' dental patient. Hanako can talk, blink, open and close her mouth, breathe, sneeze and even winces as if in pain when there is too much pressure being applied from a dental tool. How cool is that? Hanako does have ersatz saliva, but there is no word on whether or not bad breath is possible, but we aren't too far away.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote in "Slaugtherhouse-Five" in a novel-within-the-novel about a robot "who became popular after his halitosis was cured." Obviously bad breath isn't something anyone or anything wants to have.

From Our Partners