Diagnosis of Bad Breath

We can not really make out we have a bad mouth odor, due to process of habituation. However it’s the people we usually associate with who can really identify the bad breath coming out of our mouth. The degree of this bad breath depends mainly on oral dryness and the amount of residual toxins in the mouth.

The simplest method to check whether you have bad breath or not, is to lick the back of your wrist and allow the saliva to dry for some time and smell the area.

Tongue Test

Another easy way is to lightly scrape the back of the tongue with an inverted spoon or a piece of dental floss, and to test for the smell of the dried residue.

You may need to ask your spouse to smell your breathe and give you a proper opinion. Of late highly reliable home tests are made available which test for the presence of polyamines and sulfur compounds on tongue swabs.

You may need to test several times in a day to arrive at an average result. However, if bad breath is continuous and everlasting, and all other factors have been ruled out, you should consider taking a sophisticated test using modern technology.


A new portable sulfide monitor called the Halimeter is used widely to test for levels of sulfur emissions in the mouth air. However, it has drawbacks in clinical and lab applications.

For example, many common sulfides are not recorded as easily and can be read erroneously in test results. Certain foods such as garlic and onions produce sulfur in the breath for as long as 48 hours and can result in false readings.

The Halimeter is also found to be very sensitive to alcoholic drinks; so you will need to avoid drinking alcohol or using alcohol-rich mouthwashes for at least 12 hours prior to being tested. This meter will loose its sensitivity over time and requires periodic recalibration to remain accurate.


Modern research has given us portable gas chromatography machines such as the “OralChroma”, which is specifically designed to digitally measure molecular levels of the three major odor compounds in a sample of mouth air. It is extremely accurate in its results and produces visual conclusions in graph form via computer interface.

Microbiological testing of swab samples of teeth and tongue residue remains the most accurate method of determining the specific bacterial causes of oral malodor. It is very authentic too!