Mouthwashes Really Do Fight Bad Breath
Oct. 7, 2008 -- A new review of studies delves into how to beat bad breath (halitosis) -- and gives high marks to mouthwashes.
Researchers led by Zbys Fedorowicz from the Bahrain Ministry of Health reviewed results from five studies with participants who were randomly given mouthwashes or placebo; 293 people in Thailand, the U.S, the Netherlands, Spain, and Israel took part.
According to background information provided by the researchers, halitosis is widespread around the world: Up to half of people in the U.S. say they have bad breath, 50-60% of people in France complain of it, and 24% of Japanese say it's a problem.
The participants in the data review were adults over 18 years old who did not have any serious chronic gum or mouth diseases or other conditions such as diabetes, which can bring on bad breath.
The studies were two, four, or six weeks long.
What researchers found when they compared data is that the type of mouthwash can make a difference in either masking or eliminating bad breath.
"We found that antibacterial mouth rinses, as well as those containing chemicals that neutralize odors, are actually very good at controlling bad breath," Fedorowicz says in a news release.
But researchers also found that mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine can temporarily stain the teeth and tongue and reduce taste in one trial.
Researchers also found:
Bad breath is caused by bacteria and traces of food that collect in the back of and creases of the tongue.
Researchers write that these particles and bacteria then "break down into volatile sulphur compounds," which are responsible for the smell.
By Kelley Colihan
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
WebMD Health News
October 7, 2008