It can be easy to lose a sense of proportion when thinking about the causes of halitosis. While oral odor is tangible - or smellable - enough, its causes go largely unseen on the tongue and in the throat. Fortunately, an online video clip taken from the children's educational program Beakman's World puts bad breath in perspective.
The television show was originally aired from 1992 to 1998 during CBS's Saturday morning cartoons. Starring host Paul Zaloom, the show used live actors, puppets and animations to explains scientific ideas.
In an episode titled "The Mouth, Beakmania & Scale," Zaloom explained halitosis by first describing how many bacteria live in a single mouth - more than the number of humans on Earth.
To convey exactly how those microbes contribute to oral odor, he made a generalization. Like any other creature, they eat and excrete waste, he said. His assistant added, "You mean they're using my mouth as a...?" A toilet is then heard flushing.
The analogy is unpleasant but apt. Oral bacteria give off sulfurous particles as a byproduct of their digestion. To reduce bad breath, Zaloom recommends brushing and flossing often. By rinsing with a specialty breath freshener as well, those with halitosis may be able to neutralize its odors.