We all have dear friends whom we feel close to, except we try to stay downwind of them most of the time.
Because they have bad breath.
And now, finally, there may be a solution, says Dr. Harold Katz, a Los Angeles dentist who has made curing bad breath his mission.
Q. You go around the country talking about bad breath. Why?
A. Bad breath can be a really serious issue. Some people are nicknamed “stinky” as a kid and that has an awful effect. Some have tried to kill themselves because they can’t keep a job, they are made fun of at work, their relationships are impacted.
Others smoke and drink so much they really can’t smell their own bad breath. Smoking and drinking create bad breath because they make the mouth dry. So do 75 percent of the medications people take.
Q. So how do I know if I have bad breath?
A. One good way to find out is to lick the back of your hand, let it dry and smell that.
Q. So then I use a mouthwash, right?
A. Traditional mouthwashes cause problems. Most are loaded with alcohol and also make the mouth dry.
There’s a theory that if a mouthwash tastes like a medicine cabinet, it must be getting rid of bad breath. But most of the time it creates an environment bacteria love.
Q. The literature says our mouths are lined with various health-promoting bacteria. And one common bacterium in the mouth of healthy humans is Streptococcus salivarius. You say you are the first American dentist to work with a potent strain of this beneficial bacterium called BLIS K12, that fights several disease-causing pathogens, including those associated with strep throat, ear infections, tonsillitis and even bad breath?
A. BLIS K12 is a specific strain of S. salivarius that produces antimicrobial substances that target these infections. Microbiologist Dr. Jeremy Burton says it’s safe for children and adults. It was discovered and isolated by microbiologist professor John Tagg of the University of Otago in New Zealand. I was privileged to work with him for six years.
BLIS K12 is available in many products — chewable tablets, lozenges, chewing gum — and is shelf-stable and does not require special handling or refrigeration.
It’s all fairly new and in the marketplace now.
Q. How did you get so fixated on bad breath problems?
A. My first patient was my own daughter when she was 13. That was in 1993. Friends offered gum and mints but they didn’t work. Her tongue had a coating on it full of bacteria. I ended up focusing on that issue, dropped my dental practice and went to London and to Asia studying solutions.
Q. You are featured on therabreath.com and claim to have treated 13,000 people. That’s terrific, but I think the best part of the Web page is a way to tell a friend anonymously about their bad breath problem.
A. You give me the offender’s e-mail address and I will send them an e-mail.
Q. Can you tell me some of the products featuring BLIS K12?
A. The formula is currently found in Nature’s Plus Adult’s Ear, Nose and Throat; Nature’s Plus Animal Parade Children’s Chewable Inner Ear Support; Nature’s Plus Whole Food Total Body Cleanse with Acai; Solaray Oral Flora; Imagenetix BioGuard; Life Extension Advanced Oral Hygiene; Swanson Ultra Oral Probiotic; VegLife Ear, Nose & Throat Shield; Biogenesis Pro Floral Oral Health Chewables; True Botanicas True Defense for Kids; True Botanicas True Defense for Adults; Dr. Sinatra Ear, Nose & Throat Defense; Garden of Life Raw Cleanse Kit; and TheraBreath Aktiv K12.
Q. What should most of us who don’t need such aggressive bad breath treatment do to keep that nasty odor away?
A. Keep your tongue very clean and floss every day. That’s important.