The science of halitosis is constantly evolving. Things that were once considered the main causes of bad breath have often fallen by the wayside, as research has proven them to have little or no connection to oral odor. Consider this situation: You have two kinds of ulcers – aphthous ulcers (also known as canker sores) and a stomach ulcer. Which one is causing your bad breath?
It’s tempting to immediately choose the stomach ulcer, and for many years, oral health experts did just that. They knew that most halitosis comes from odor-causing bacteria (which is true), so they assumed that bad breath came from the stomach and digestive tract.
Today, though, we know that this simply isn’t true. In fact, a new study published in the Journal of Breath Research confirms as much.
Stomach ulcers hurt (but don’t stink)
Scientists from three different health centers in the Netherlands set out to see whether the bacterium that causes stomach ulcers – a nasty little beast called Heliobacter pylori – can also emit enough volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) to make breath smell bad.
As the Dutch team noted, “the concentrations of the VSCs in stomach air were in nearly all cases below the thresholds of objectionability of the various VSCs, indicating that halitosis does not originate in the stomach.” Hence, stomach ulcers can’t cause oral odor.
“Halitosis,” the authors added, “nearly always originates within the oral cavity and seldom or never within the stomach.”