Looking for a halitosis cure? Specialty breath freshening mouthwashes may be the answer, since plenty of research suggests that using an antimicrobial rinse can knock out oral bacteria and dramatically reduce bad breath.
A meta-study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine is a case in point. Its authors, who hail from the Bahrain Branch of the UK Cochrane Center, said that, of the the many clinical findings they combed through, most point to antimicrobial mouthrinses as the most effective halitosis cure.
Why is this so? Researchers pointed to the primacy of bacteria as the origin of bad breath.
"Although there are several factors which can contribute to halitosis, the most common is the accumulation of food debris and bacteria, specifically in the rear furrows of the tongue. Bacteria utilize the food residue and generate volatile sulfur compounds, which are the primary source of this offending odor," the team noted.
This means that it isn't enough to chew a mint or brush your teeth, if you leave bacteria in your mouth to live another day.
In their literature review, the team found five studies that focused on over-the-counter halitosis remedies. Scientists concluded that the product most likely to reduce bad breath is a mouthrinse containing antibacterial substances, like zinc, chlorhexidine or other microbe-fighting compounds.
Using such a specialty breath freshener may be one of the best ways to bust bad breath. The authors added that such rinses typically contain compounds that neutralize odor molecules, too, leaving the mouth clean and fresh-smelling.
This is not the first clinical report to conclude that antimicrobial mouthrinses are the closest thing we have to a halitosis cure.
Take a paper published by Norwegian researchers at the University of Oslo. The team found that a zinc- and chlorhexidine-based mouthrinse was able to reduce participants' levels of hydrogen sulfide - a potent volatile sulfur compound, one that carries the scent of rotten eggs - to less than 1 percent of its pre-rinse strength.
Another study, this one appearing in the Journal of Breath Research, determined that a similar concoction was able to reduce halitosis levels to a lower baseline over a three-week period.
So, is a specialty breath freshening rinse all you need in the fight against bad breath? Not exactly, but it is a good start. Most oral healthcare experts will tell you that brushing, flossing and using a tongue scraper daily are three crucial activities for maintaining fresh breath.