1. What are the most common causes of bad breath?
- An overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth cavity resulting from
inadequate tongue cleaning
- Poor oral hygiene
- Gum disease/gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Unclean dentures
- Oral abscesses
- Post nasal drip, colds, flu and other illnesses
- Dry mouth caused by mouth breathing, fasting, prolonged
talking, stress and some medications
- Tobacco smoking
2. We were always lead to believe that bad breath was related to
the stomach. Is this not the case?
Most sufferers of halitosis and most doctors/dentists still
believe that the origin of halitosis is the stomach and colon area.
Many patients therefore initially seek help from
Gastroenterologists. But science today has proven otherwise.
3. Isn’t “tongue cleaning” taking oral hygiene a bit too far?
No not at all. When one considers the effort that goes into the
upkeep of healthy teeth and gums and into the cleanliness routines
of hair, it is incredulous that we continue to disregard the tongue.
Somehow oral care from an early age has not focused on tongue
cleaning and as a result the tongue is often forgotten.
4. Is “tongue cleaning” a new trend?
No, in fact details of tongue cleaning from centuries ago have
been written in Indian and Chinese scripts. The Chinese make
reference from 1927 “… with it you use the tongue scraper, a 10cm
long and 7mm wide metal strip that had to be carried around attached
to their buttonhole…”
5. What happens when the tongue is not cleaned?
The top layer of the tongue offers the perfect breeding ground
for bacteria. A coating of bacteria forms that doctors and
scientists believe has a damaging effect on general health with the
most common effect being bad breath. The thicker this layer becomes,
the stronger the odour.
6. How does tongue cleaning prevent bad breath?
Daily cleaning of the tongue prevents increased coatings of
bacteria forming. The back of the tongue is multilayered, consisting
of stringy, leaf-like capillaries, which form a nesting place for
bacteria. About two thirds of all bacteria in the oral cavity is
attached to the tongue.
7. How is bad breath formed?
A Gram-negative bacteria coating develops on the tongue and gums.
This consists of blood and saliva components, food particles, skin
cells and micro-organisms. Within hours of brushing teeth, new
saliva forms compounds such as Amine and Sulphur also known as VSC
(Volatile Sulphur compounds). VSC emits an odour that is
particularly noticeable and easily identified. Known as
methylmercaptan, the compound is 100 times more intense to the human
nose than sulphur hydrogen.
8. Is bad breath a common problem?
Yes it is. Approximately 20% of the adult European population
suffers with this anti-social condition.
9. What is the most common cause of the large majority of
Medical studies show that more that 80 percent of halitosis cases
originate from the inside of the mouth, specifically the surface of
10. What is the medical profession doing to help people with this
- Initiating and increasing consumer awareness and education
in popular magazines
- Developing products specifically designed to combat this
problem such as GlaxoSmithKline’s unique Aquafresh Flex Tooth
and Tongue brush.
- Dentists are starting to offer halitosis-therapy to patients
- Medical congresses the world over are urging dentists and
dental assistants, to take tongue care into consideration while
consulting and treating patients.
11. What self tests can be done to check the status of one’s
- Stick your tongue out as far as you can. Then lick your
upper arm or the inner surface of your wrist, wait 4 seconds and
smell where you licked.
- Or place a piece of gauzy cloth on your tongue; as far back
as you can, for a few moments. Take it out, let it dry and then
12. How can bad breath be prevented?
- Brush the tongue every time the teeth are brushed - twice
- Invest in a tooth and tongue brush Use a toothpaste such as
Aquafresh Extreme clean that actively foams and is able to reach
all the nooks and crannies in the oral cavity.
- Visit an oral hygienist for an “in-the-chair clean” every