The Smells of Bad Breath

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The Smells Of Bad Breath

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The Three Main Gases From Bad Breath

The Twelve Hour Rule Of Bad Breath
Bad Breath is the waste product of over 800 different species that inhabit our mouths. Broadly these species are divided into those that live with oxygen (can cause decay) and those bacteria that live without oxygen (can cause bad breath).

The "Twelve Hour Rule" means that the smells are not made till the bacteria have been in the mouth for more than 12hours. This is because before they can make smells they need to group together in a protein rich biofilm (coating). Once in the biofilm they will break down proteins to amino acids for energy and give off Volatile Sulphur Compounds as a waste smell.

There are three main smells of bad breath, rotten eggs, faeces and cabbage with gasoline. These smells are all due to the amino acids Cysteine and Methionine being broken down to energy These gases are all called Volatile Sulphur Compounds. This means they are unstable and unable to be collected for pathology screening.

Halicheck Gas Chromograph can give me a reading of these gases in the mouth. We take an air sample of your breath and within 8minutes our Halicheck can give us a readout of all the gases as low as 1part per billion in normal mouth air. My Halitosis Clinics are the only dental offices in Australia to have this machinery.

Mouth Compound
The Smell Made
Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) rotten eggs
Methyl Mercaptan (CH3SH) bowel and faeces
Dimethyl Sulphide (CH3SCH3) cabbage, sulphur, gasoline
Skatole(3-methyl-1H-indole) <mothball, faeces
Cadaverine C5H14N2 corpses, urine
Putrescine(NH2(CHH2)4NH2) decaying flesh
Isovaleric acid sweat, rancid-cheese, off-milk

Bad Breath Smells Explained
Gas 1 - Rotten Eggs comes from the gas Hydrogen Sulphide, which comes from the amino acid Cysteine. Bacteria that break this amino acid down usually live on the tongue, in the depths of the tongue papillae. When I use my Halicheck Gas Chromograph, I use the level of this gas as my indicator of how well you clean your mouth in general. A high reading means to me that you are leaving bacteria rich biofilm in the mouth due to either haphazard cleaning or infrequent cleaning. I rarely see high levels of this gas in chronic halitosis sufferers as they are fastidious mouth cleaners.

Gas 2 - Faeces comes from Methyl Mercaptan, which comes from the amino acid Methionine. Bacteria that break this amino acid down can either live at the gag reflex or under the gums. So levels of this gas are extremely important. I use it to measure the level of mouth health. A low level usually means that you have protein rich coating on the gag reflex line at the back of the tongue, but a high reading generally means you also have a second colony under the gum. My research shows that specific gum bacteria "Treponema denticola, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Tannerella forsythensis, Porphyromonas endodontalis and Eubacterium Species" give off the faeces smell when they are active causing gum disease. This is an extremely predictable gas and probably the most common and offensive smell of halitosis.

Gas 3 - Cabbage & Gasoline comes from Dimethyl Sulphide, which also comes from the amino acid Methionine. This is the least understood of the bad breath gases. But years of seeing patients and clinically treating bad breath sufferers has proven to me that this gas is an indicator of post nasal drip. My research shows that bacteria accumulate in mucous that collects at the back of the throat can produce this smell. The only way to clear the protein rich biofilm away from the throat area is to include a hypertonic saline spray administered under pressure through the nose so that it can spray to the back of the throat. Sinoclear is such a nasal spray, and is effective when used asa part of the KFORCE PLUS Treatment.

Other Gases are usually in very small levels. For example Skatole is due to breakdown of the the amino acid Tryptophan. Cadaverine and Putrescine come from breakdown of the amino acid Lysine. Isovaleric Acid comes from the breakdown of the amino acid Leucine.

Read my research published with BLIS Technologies:
Journal of Applied Microbiology 2006 pp754-764.. Burton J, Chilcott C, C. J. Moore, G. Speiser, J. R. Tagg.
"A preliminary study of the effect of probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 on oral malodour parameters."

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