Diagnosis of oral halitosis

A dentist is often the first contact person to diagnose and treat halitosis. Different diagnostic methods have been developed based on subjective or objective measurement of VSC.


Organoleptic method
(“gold standard”)


Subjective measurement

Based on smelling the exhaled air of mouth and nose separately and comparing the two

Performed by a calibrated person using a score of 0-5 to evaluate halitosis when breathing and speaking (distance nose to mouth: 10 cm)

Portable sulphide monitor,
e.g. Halimeter

Objective measurement

Detects VSC with appropriate monitor; unable to detect individual sulphur compounds

Higher affinity to hydrogen sulphide than dimethyl sulphide

Simple to perform but fails to detect oral malodour caused by non-sulphide components

Gas chromatography,
e.g. OralChroma
Objective measurement

Measures molecular levels of the three major VSC in a sample of mouth air (hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulphide)

Not suitable for routine clinical practice due to technical complexity