Chronic Bad Breath
The medical term for chronic bad breath is halitosis. This term was coined in 1921 by George Lambert, the son of Listerine inventor Jordan Wheat lambert. Looking for a marketing angle to expand sales of Listerine, which had been sold over-the-counter since 1914, he invented the term. The term combines the Latin for “breath,” “halitus” with the medical ending “osis,” so it’s literally “breath-itis.”
However, contrary to what some people might argue, Listerine didn’t invent bad breath, nor were they the first to consider it a medical condition. We believe that honor goes to the Egyptians, noted dental pioneers. In the Ebers Papyrus, dating from before 1500 BC, we find the first recorded recipe for curing bad breath. Since then, numerous medical texts discuss the condition and possible solutions.
Surprisingly, most people with halitosis are not aware of their problem breath.
Some people think that bad breath is a result of what’s going on in our stomachs. But that’s not usually the case. If you have indigestion, you might burp up foul-smelling gas. Most of the time, though, the odor of halitosis is generated by bacteria that thrive in the mouth under the gums, and in the nooks and crannies on the teeth and the surface of the tongue. They are anaerobic bacteria, which “breathe” sulfur instead of oxygen. Left untreated these bacteria create volatile sulfur compounds that have a characteristic “rotten egg” smell. Most people would probably like their breath to be more pleasant than that.