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Bad Breath (halitosis) Research

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Where does the odor on the back of the tongue come from?

Although no one is sure, it appears that the origin of this material is post-nasal drip. Many people (perhaps a quarter of the urban population) suffer from post-nasal drip. Many of us don't even know we
tonguehave it. In most cases, it's not associated with any disease, but is rather more like an allergy. Most of the mucus secretion rolls down the throat, but some of it may get stuck on the tongue.
And while it may not have a smell when it gets there, after hanging around for a few days, the millions of bacteria on the tongue break it down, yielding foul smelling molecules. Perhaps in more primitive societies the back of the tongue was cleansed by eating more fibrous food than we do today. Whether or not this is true, the back of the tongue is a major source of bad breath, and the odor which it gives off has a typical smell of its own.

Interestingly, some people with this problem don't have much bad breath when they just blow air from their mouth. It's when they begin to talk that the odor makes itself evident. Apparently, during speech, the passage of air over the active tongue tends to intensify the odor.

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