Electronic Nose Will Detect Halitosis

Discussion in 'Health and Lifestyle' started by Adam's Apple, Dec 7, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple

    Adam's Apple Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2004
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    Can You Smell Me Now?
    By Karen Barrow for Healthology

    If your stinky exhalation is causing aggravation, a new electronic nose may help you sniff out the offending odor before you send your friends running from the stench. By detecting levels of methyl mercaptan, the chemical responsible for the worst cases of halitosis (better known as bad breath), the newly-developed device may be a godsend for every teen who tests their breath by breathing into their cupped hands before a big date and for every professional popping breath mints before a meeting.

    "Unfortunately, our human [nose] is less than perfect, in particular in detecting self-body odor," explains Kohji Mitsubayashi, a member of the team that developed the product from Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Japan.

    Bad breath is caused by high amounts of bacteria in the mouth, which feed off of food and dead skin cells in your mouth. The bacteria then release various gases, some of which cause bad breath. Older bad-breath sensors, which can occasionally be found in a dentist's office, are only able to sense sulphur, the same chemical that gives rotting eggs their putrid scent. But the majority of the sulphur-filled gas in your mouth is much less pungent in smell than methyl mercaptan and masks the true amount of this odorous chemical in the mouth.

    The new sensor, presented in October 2005 in The Analyst, contains an enzyme that only reacts to methyl mercaptan itself, allowing it to sniff past the sulphur in one's saliva. The device is twice as sensitive as the human nose, according to the researchers.

    While it may not be available for a few years, Mitsubayashi sees a big future for his creation. The device is small enough to fit into cell phones, so people may one day be able to test their breath inconspicuously as they chat.

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