The Truth About Bad Breath & What the Symptoms Mean
Posted: July 8, 2007Bad breath is caused by Anaerobic Sulfur Producing Bacteria which normally live WITHIN the surface of the tongue and in the throat. These bacteria are supposed to be there, because they assist humans in digestion by breaking down proteins found in specific foods, mucous or phlegm, blood, and in diseased or "broken-down" oral tissue. Under certain conditions, these bacteria start to break down proteins at a very high rate. Proteins are made up of Amino Acids. Two of the Amino Acids (Cysteine and Methionine) are dense with sulfur.
When these "beneficial" bacteria come into contact with these compounds, the odorous and "lousy-tasting" sulfur compounds are released from the back of the tongue and throat, as Hydrogen Sulfide, Methyl Mercaptan, and other odorous and bad tasting compounds. These "problem" compounds are often referred to as volatile sulfur compounds (VSC), where volatile means Vaporous and Effervescent, two adjectives which accurately describe their ability to offend other people instantly.
Because my original degree is in Bacteriology, let me explain a very important fact about these "bugs". They are not "bad guys" - they are not infectious. Everyone in the world has the same group of bacteria in their mouth. You cannot "catch" bad breath from someone else - even by kissing. Since they are part of our normal oral flora, you cannot permanently remove them from your mouth - not by tongue scraping, not by antibiotics, and not by rinses which claim to "lift the bacteria off your tongue". The only scientifically proven and clinically effective method of halting Halitosis is by attacking the bacteria's ability to produce VSC and by converting the VSC into non-odorous and non-tasting organic salts. (I should know, I've personally treated nearly 10,000 people at my California Breath Clinics and I've helped thousands more through my TheraBreath formulas. Take a look at a small fraction of testimonial letters to see What Doesn't Work!
Speaking about bacteria, there is one other fact that you must understand about these bacteria. They are classified as "Anaerobic" - which literally means "Without Oxygen". They thrive in an environment where Oxygen is NOT present. That is why they DO NOT LIVE ON THE SURFACE OF YOUR TONGUE! They live in between the papillae (fibers) that make up your tongue!
These sulfur compounds are actually by-products of anaerobic bacteria (Fusobacterium and Actinomyces, among others). Everyone needs these bacteria, because they assist the digestion process. But, unfortunately, for some, as yet undetermined reason these particular bacteria are found in higher numbers in those anguished by Bad Breath. (Various theories attribute this to hormonal changes, a history of medications, usually antibiotics or sulfa drugs-which create an imbalance of oral bacteria, or even Genetics-these disorders appear to run in some families.) We do know however, that it seems to be evenly split between men and women.
Conditions under which the problem becomes worse:
Dry Mouth Although some cases of dry mouth are naturally occurring, most cases are caused by one of these factors; prescription medications (usually prescribed for high blood pressure or depression) antihistamines, and adult beverages, with alcohol in them. (see "Why Regular Products Don't Work")
When your mouth is dryer, you have less Saliva. Saliva naturally contains Oxygen, which keeps your mouth healthy and fresh. These bacteria are anaerobic, which simply means that they will thrive and make more sulfur in the presence of little or no oxygen. Thus if you have less Saliva, you have less oxygen, thereby creating an anaerobic environment, perfect for the bacteria to produce more of these odorous and sour/bitter compounds. For people with Dry Mouth, products such as Saliva Stimulation Tablets can help greatly.
Post-Nasal Drip We know that proteins contain amino acids, which in turn contain sulfur compounds (see text above). When a person has a post nasal drip, mucus drains and coats the back of the tongue and throat, exactly where bacteria live (see diagram above). Since mucus is made up of interlinked strands of protein, the bacteria have a field day, breaking down these proteins into odorous and sour tasting sulfur type compounds. Strong Antihistamines don't help, because the drying effect of the antihistamines also creates a problem. The only method of ending the odor and taste are to use Oxyd-VIII based oral products. Many of my patients with post nasal drip have claimed great success with use of the Nasal-Sinus Drops.
What About The Sinuses? After personally treating nearly 9,000 people worldwide, I have yet to see a patient get rid of his bad breath following sinus surgery. First of all, these anaerobic bacteria cannot live in the sinuses. When someone has a sinus infection, one of the common symptoms are intense sinus headaches, caused by the pressure from the infection in the sinus. If you don't have these powerful headaches, you probably don't have a sinus problem. The fact is that once someone has an elevated amount of these anaerobic bacteria, they will create the problem from any protein source, including mucous, phlegm, etc, which drain down the back of your throat into the area where these bacteria live.
High Protein Foods These bacteria love those proteins, and certain foods are packed with them:
Milk and Cheese and most other dairy products. (The fat content does not matter.) If you are lactose intolerant, do not eat or drink these products! Since your system cannot digest them properly, they are available to the bacteria for an extended period of time. A recent research article from the Los Angeles Times (November 1996) on lactose intolerance showed that nearly 67% of all Americans can be classified as "Lactose Intolerant". This is due to the fact that in a diverse population such as we have here, there is a predilection for Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans to be lactose intolerant.
Fish are high in proteins. As many people eat a high fish diet, logically they make the problem worse.
Coffee with caffeine (and even without) contains high levels of acids which cause the bacteria to reproduce more rapidly and create a bitter taste for many people. (Virtually any acidic type of food will do this.)
Coffee drinking was one of the problems that my patients used to have. After starting my treatment, they have been able to go back to coffee drinking (in moderation of course) without any bitter tastes afterward.
What Works? Oxyd-VIII is the active ingredient in TheraBreath products. It prevents the anaerobic bacteria from creating the odorous sulfide and Mercaptan compounds by "adding oxygen" to the environment. The end result is the formation of a "Sulfate", which has no odor or taste. Most of my patients start out with a Starter Kit and work their way up from there if necessary.