Bad breath can happen to any of us. What we eat, how often we brush, and if we floss all contribute. When we hear “halitosis,” however, we think of a chronic and persistent issue that even the most flavorful gum can’t hide. Have you ever wondered how using the term “halitosis” came to be, and what the medicine for halitosis is? Here’s an overview on it:
History of Medicine for Halitosis
Bad breath has been around since the beginning of time, but according to the Smithsonian, advertisements for Listerine changed halitosis from a pet peeve to a disgusting medical issue that should receive immediate treatment.
Going to market in the 1880s, Listerine was initially intended as a surgical antiseptic. Its creator, Dr. Joseph Lawrence, named his work after Dr. Joseph Lister, the founding father of antiseptics. Advertisements aimed at dentists said that Listerine would kill germs in the mouth, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that their marketing strategy came to resemble the Listerine we know today.
Dr. Lawrence transferred ownership of the Listerine formula to Jordan Wheat Lambert. Lambert’s son Gerald combined the Latin word for breath, “Halitus,” and the medical ending “osis” –halitosis.
The word halitosis started appearing in ads, poised as a medical condition that people should take note of and use Listerine to fight. Who wants to walk around with bad breath? Listerine made sure no one did and positioned itself as the medicine for halitosis.
Other Ways to Combat Halitosis
Today, bad breath affects one in four people globally. For the majority, halitosis is caused by poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease, tongue coat, or dirty dentures. Fortunately, there are things you can do today to avoid these problems:
- Brush and Floss Twice a Day – Brushing your teeth helps remove smelly foods and stubborn bacteria from your mouth. Flossing plucks food from between your teeth and along your gum line, which can cause bad bacteria to grow and settle in.
- Brush or Scrape Your Tongue – You can invest in an inexpensive tool called a tongue scraper to combat bad breath. Some are curved, and others are straight like your toothbrush. Both are designed to remove plaque, food debris and dead cells from your tongue’s surface.
- Stop Tobacco Use – If you’re a smoker or a chewer, you may already be familiar with the adverse effects it has on your teeth, mouth, and breath. Eliminating tobacco permanently is good for your overall health and can improve your oral health, too.
- Go to the Dentist – Visit your dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning. If you struggle with halitosis, talk to your dentist about remedies that can help.
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