How to Test For Bad Breath

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How to Test For Bad Breath

The simplest way to test whether or not you have bad breath is to ask your spouse or loved one for an honest opinion. If you feel too embarrassed to do this you can try to test your breath yourself, or get an opinion from a professional such as your dentist or breath clinic health professional.

To test your own breath you can lick the inside of your wrist, let it dry for a moment, and then smell. The bacteria from the anterior part of the tongue plus any chemical substances produced by them will be deposited. If there are unfriendly malodorous bacteria and their products present you should be able to detect them. If there is little or no detectable smell then that is a good sign. There are, however considerable numbers of bacteria at the back of the tongue which may be different types, and may be a cause of bad breath problems. To detect these you need to scrape the tongue with the back of a spoon and smell the residue removed. The tongue coating is normally thin and whitish with a slight smell, but if it is thick and dark coloured with a bad smell then this could be the source of bad breath.

In order to get a more scientific assessment of the quality of your breath you would need to visit your dentist or a breath clinic. A dentist is able to make an independent judgement of your breath and indeed, the overall state of your mouth, pointing out possible causes if you do have bad breath. It is important to have regular dental check-ups to avoid bad breath since a common cause is the gradual build up of plaque on the teeth, hardening and turning to tartar. This chalky deposit, once accumulated around the teeth, cannot be removed just by tooth-brushing, and it harbours more plaque and bacteria, causing the problem to get gradually worse. By visiting your dentist at least once a year you can avoid this.

The dentist may introduce you to the halimeter, a device which can measure amounts of certain gases which are associated with bad breath. If you have a high reading it suggests the presence of large numbers of anaerobic bacteria in your mouth, and these are likely to be the source of the bad breath. Your dentist can check for evidence of colonies of these bacteria on the back of the tongue or at the base of the teeth in the gums. If there is pocketing around the teeth, i.e. if the gums are loose around the teeth, it suggests gum disease with gaps where large numbers of unfriendly bacteria have accumulated, and these areas are out of reach of normal tooth-brushing. It will be necessary to undergo a course of treatment to remove the diseased gum and contaminants before you can be free of bad breath.

Another testing method sometimes used is the BANA test, where a sample of saliva is mixed with a special chemical compound, producing a colour change, and the colour can then be compared with a chart. This gives an indication of the presence of anaerobic unfriendly bacteria.

If you ignore a bad breath problem, you do so at your own peril, as it will not go away by itself, and may indicate a worsening condition of the gums. It is much better to face up to the problem and get professional help to overcome it.

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