//Do devices to measure halitosis exist?
Do devices to measure halitosis exist? 2018-03-27T16:05:30+00:00


Top 13 most frequently asked questions about halitosis (bad breath).

Dr Jonas Nunes, recognised expert in halitosis and Director of the Breath Institute, answers the most frequently asked questions about halitosis (bad breath).

07. Do devices to measure halitosis exist?

Although some mouthwash brands promise to cure bad breath, there are various devices for personal use, which despite claiming to be able to measure halitosis are not very effective. What is more, such devices often have a highly affordable price tag. Many of them claim to be state-of-the-art technology, when they have in fact been sold in Japan and other countries all over the world since the turn of the century (for example, those under the trade name Breath Alert).

Firstly, we must bear in mind that the human breath can contain over 3,000 different compounds. Today, there is no doubt that only instruments using gas chromatography can successfully measure all of these compounds. Other equipment (for instance, portable devices etc.), at the most, can only measure some of the different compounds, those containing sulphur, for example, and most do so in an unreliable manner.

Today, there is no doubt that only gas chromatography instruments are capable of measuring the wide range of compounds found in the breath“.

So, what can happen is that a person uses an instrument like this, trusting that they are measuring their bad breath, and it gives them a false negative (that is, the device indicates that halitosis is not present, when this might not necessarily be true), which can obviously have a damaging effect on the patient. Why does this happen? The reason is that the compounds present in the person’s breath might not contain the sulphur atoms that the device is designed to detect (some gas compounds do not contain sulphur but are still very common, for example indole, skatole, putrescine, etc.)

If portable devices for personal use were sufficiently reliable then they would naturally be very useful for measuring whether the breath at any time throughout the day. Unfortunately, these devices are also inaccurate. Some patients who have bought them admit that the device in question can firstly indicate bad breath and, 60 seconds later, give a reading that indicates the presence of halitosis. It is clear that these tools are generating a great deal of confusion that can negatively impact the self-esteem of those suffering from halitosis.

The device most commonly used in clinics is the Halimeter. It is not a gas chromatography tool but rather a monitor for detecting sulphurous compounds. The device was developed in the 1990s and, compared with the state-of-the-art gas chromatography technology that exists today, is considered outdated. Apart from the fact that the Halimeter cannot identify Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSCs) individually, it is not able to correctly measure ALL of the different compounds (various researchers have demonstrated that the device shows very low sensitivity to the sulphur compound dimethyl sulphide, for example).

This is why I usually tell our patients that to find out whether or not they have bad breath, the best thing to do is to ask a close friend or family member (a “confidant”). If their confidant confirms the existence of bad breath and they want to discover the cause (or if the patient does not feel confident enough to talk to anyone about their concern with their breath), then it is advisable that they attend a specialist consultation that uses gas chromatography equipment in order to identify and measure the compounds that are present in their breath.

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Know your Breath.

Did you know that you can suffer from bad breath without realising it? Many people suffer from halitosis (bad breath) on a regular basis, regardless of gender, age or social class.  Furthermore, halitosis can have a profound impact on self-esteem, and can even result in discrimination and social exclusion.

To clear up any doubts you may have, please complete our online questionnaires and find out the results immediately.