If you've ever wondered what percentage of Americans suffer from bad breath, you may be happy to know that the American Dental Association (ADA) has pondered the same exact thing and come to some surprising conclusions.
A report published by the organization's Council of Scientific Affairs estimated that 50 percent of the U.S. population has halitosis at any one time, and that one-half of this group has chronic bad breath.
The study, which appears in the Journal of the ADA, also noted that approximately 90 percent of all oral odor is precisely that - oral. While illnesses can cause bad breath by way of the lungs, gastrointestinal tract or bloodstream, it is overwhelmingly likely that a randomly chosen case of halitosis originated on the tongue, gums or palate.
The paper stated that while some mouthwashes can chemically mask the smell, others may actually rid the mouth of bacteria and odor at the same time.
"[A] mechanism that has been proposed for the action of mouthrinses is the inactivation of [volatile sulfur compounds] and their conversion into nonmalodorous compounds by zinc salts," the authors specified. Some of the most effective specialty breath freshening rinses work in just this way.