Goodbye To Bad Breath

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Patients touch their tongues to a straw that is connected to the machine, which then measures the amount of volatile sulfur compounds, or VSCs, in their mouth. The more VSCs, the more likely they are to suffer from chronic bad breath.

[Health News]

It might not be the garlic that’s keeping your co-workers at arm’s length. Millions of Americans suffer from chronic halitosis – and Altoids can’t help them.

You got any gum? How about a mint? No, but you’re welcome to a halimeter instead.

The bad breath-measuring device is just one part of a chronic halitosis treatment procedure pioneered by Dr. Gary Herskovits, a New York City-based dentist who takes the embarrassing condition very seriously.

Patients touch their tongues to a straw that is connected to the machine, which then measures the amount of volatile sulfur compounds, or VSCs, in their mouth. The more VSCs, the more likely they are to suffer from chronic bad breath.

Patients often ask him if there a cure. "No," he says, "there is no cure yet for this condition, however, it can be controlled like any other condition that can be medically controlled. An example would be diabetes."

After the halimeter reading is taken, he works with patients to implement a personalized treatment plan that will work best for them. He must be doing something right, as patients from all over the world –specifically England, France, Switzerland, Russia—have flown in to consult with him, in part because many other doctors don’t see bad breath as being worthy of serious treatment.

But does his system actually work?

Seems like it -- "I have saved marriages, helped get that second date, helped businessman in sales, helped people get and or keep their jobs," Dr. Herskovits says, and notes that he’s not joking. "And, of course, I’ve been instrumental in making the spouse or girlfriend happy."

Many people who have great personalities shy away from people due to this devastating problem. "It’s a shame," he says, "because just one or two visits will take care of the problem, allowing them to flourish socially."

An average person may consider seeing a doctor for bad breath to be unnecessary, what with the gum-mint-mouthwash industrial complex.

"People I see have usually already tried all the products out there and some strange home remedies," Dr. Herskovits says. His patients typically have immaculate oral hygiene, brushing and flossing more than they need to, and yet they still suffer.

While well-known methods provide a quick fix, they do little to actually help the 85 million halitosis sufferers in the U.S. Mouthwash is especially useless as a long-term cure because many brands contain high levels of alcohol, which dries out your mouth, making it a bacteria breeding ground. Bacteria lead to mouth odor. Mouth Odor leads to a lack of second dates.

A productive treatment that doesn’t require a visit to the doctor is tongue sweeping. Notice that it’s not called " tongue scraping." Many patients believe "scraping" presses too hard, causing bleeding.

Here’s the proper way: Find a plastic spoon and place its ridge on the back of your tongue; and, pressing firmly, but not too hard, pull it slowly and gently out of your mouth.

Unless you’re a clean-mouthed god, there will be some white stuff on the spoon. That’s bacteria, and while this trick won’t banish it from your mouth forever, having a little less on your tongue every once and a while is a good thing.

But if you’ve been tongue sweeping daily and your monthly Listerine budget is more than your cable bill, it may be time to see a specialist. "No; talking to people with your head tilted down for the rest of your life isn’t an option," Dr. Herskovits notes.

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