Think you know what makes bad breath stink? According to a study in the Journal of Dental Research, you probably don't know the half of it.
Belgian scientists from the Catholic University of Leuven went about picking halitosis into its constituent elements by using gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, two sulfur monitors and organoleptically - meaning, by nose.
They came to some pretty stark conclusions. Researchers have long known that the odor of bad breath comes from volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which are sulfur-based molecules that communicate to your nose the smells of things like feet, cabbage or rotten eggs.
However, besides hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan, the two most prominent VSCs emanating from dirty mouths, scientists have been less certain about what other molecules can tinge your breath
Their investigation found that "dimethyl sulfide, di- and trisulfide were increased in persons with breath odor." This means that, for the most part, the compounds that make sweet breath sour are all very similar to one another.
Fortunately, specialty breath fresheners, oral care probiotic kits, tongue scrapers and VSC-neutralizing rinses exist to wash away such unpleasant odors.