When Bad Breath Signals Other Diseases
Bad breath can be more than embarrassing. It can also be a sign that something is wrong. Researchers are currently developing technology that they have dubbed the e-nose. E-noses use sensors that detect chemicals and identify the various scents. They use the same technology behind mass spectrometry and gas chromatography to identify various compounds associated with high cholesterol, asthma, kidney disease, and other potentially serious health problems and metabolic diseases.
E-noses are designed to be highly sensitive and detect specific molecules among the billions of other molecules in your breath, including methane, ammonia, isoprene, carbon monoxide, acetone, nitric oxide, and volatile organic compounds. Each of these molecules would indicate the presence of a specific condition, and while they might not be enough to render a diagnosis, they would provide sufficient information to steer patients towards further testing. E-noses are designed to be easy to use. They are about the shape and size of a book with an attached mouthpiece, but the final design is expected to be no larger than a keyring. They may one day eliminate the need for blood samples and could dramatically reduce the cost of testing.
Although e-noses are not yet ready to use, your bad breath can still provide a lot of information about your health. If you have chronic bad breath that does not seem to change no matter what you eat or how you brush and floss, you might have periodontal disease, or severe gum disease. Gum disease is a common chronic infection that occurs when plaque is not sufficiently removed. The bacteria begin to grow below the gum line where they are impossible to clean by brushing alone. They release volatile organic compounds, which are the source of the bad smell. A professional cleaning or a deep cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing may be needed to eliminate your bad breath. Call our office to learn more about eliminating chronic bad breath.
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