If you think halitosis is something new, think again. Bad breath has been around for ages, and researchers are only now beginning to understand just how long. For example, researchers from the University of Western Ontario in Canada recently examined the mummified corpse of a young man from Egypt who died around 2,100 years ago. To their surprise, they discovered that this man’s life may have been cut short not by a plague or some other cause that people usually think of when they think about the days of the pharaohs. Rather, his death was likely due to his mouthful of cavities.
According to the researchers, the man was in such poor dental health that infections in his mouth caused by oral problems may have lead to his demise (and likely some terrible halitosis). If only alcohol-free mouthwash and oral care probiotics had been available in ancient times - then he might have survived.
A long history of halitosis
Yahoo! News reported on the findings, which showed that the man had, in fact, visited an ancient dentist who tried to pack his cavities using linen dipped in fig juice or cedar oil.
“The dental treatment, filling a large inter-proximal cavity [a cavity between two teeth] with a protective, likely medicine-laden, barrier is a unique example of dental intervention in ancient Egypt,” said the study’s authors.
While this may have helped, the man still succumbed to dental infections a few weeks later. With that much tooth decay, his breath truly must have been terrible. Tooth decay and gum disease are signs of increased bacteria in the mouth, which leads to halitosis.
Bad breath has been around since the dawn of time, and people have been searching for ways to get rid of halitosis for just as long. For example, Smell Well reports that the Hebrew Talmud mentions a bad breath cure that involves dough water, olive oil and salt. Furthermore, the ancient text also recommends holding a pepper between your teeth to eliminate bad breath.
While these “cures” are certainly interesting, none of them are truly effective. Even to this day, people recommend a barrage of herbs and foods to get rid of halitosis, but none of these offer long-term solutions. The best way to banish bad breath is to use specialty breath fresheners like alcohol-free mouthwash.