Beating Back Bad Breath

If you or someone you know has bad breath, you know what a problem it can be. Mark Flinn knows. "Most people won't come up and say 'Hey, your breath stinks.' You know? You have to figure it out on your own." To the rescue, Dr. Harold Katz, founder of the California Breath Clinics, a dentist who gave up dentistry to concentrate solely on bad breath.

"One quick test to test if you have bad breath, lick the back of your hand, let that dry for a few seconds, then smell that." Katz does have more scientific methods to diagnose and treat chronic halitosis. The Halimeter and the Oral Chroma measure the sulfur compounds in breath samples. The compounds generate the bacteria that cause bad breath. Katz says the bacteria can't survive in the presence of oxygen, "One of the things that we've noticed right away is oxygen which is in saliva is a natural protectant from bad breath. The oxygen stops the sulfur compounds from being detectable." Katz says medications, alcohol, even mouthwash can cause dry mouth and bad breath.

Some solutions Katz recommends, drinking lots of water or chewing sugarless gum can keep saliva flowing. If that doesn't work, Katz recommends products that contain oxygenating compounds which release oxygen so that you can't smell the bad breath.