By Danny Chan
Every time Jack (not his real name) consults dental and medical professionals about his chronic bad breath, he receives cursory advice and little help to improve his condition. The 48-year-old healthcare practitioner then turned to the Internet for answers and came across a website that offered a panacea to his embarrassing problem. To Jack’s amazement, the bad breath recovery pack he had ordered online started producing results in a matter of weeks.
Today, Jack joins a chorus of convinced bad breath patients praising halitosis specialist Dr Geoffrey Speiser, for literally taking their (bad) breath away.
Dr Speiser is the founder of Australian Breath Clinic, the only specialised breath clinic in the world; and Breezecare, the online shop he created to peddle breath products. He began treating halitosis patients in 1997 but soon realised the limitations of mouthwashes and toothpaste in tackling the problem. Since bad breath is caused by many different types of bacteria, the bacterial mix found in the mouth and throat also vary between patients. Speiser advocates combining comprehensive education on lifestyle changes and the use of appropriate products to counter its effects.
He explains why dentists find themselves in an awkward position on the subject of halitosis:
“Bad breath is a universal complaint. It ranks as the third most requested dental treatment after decay and cosmetics. However dentists are ill equipped to tackle the problem correctly. They are not educated in the different modalities available or how to diagnose and treat the patient correctly and efficiently.”
High success rates for all patients
Noting the lack of treatments available for chronic sufferers of bad breath, Speiser began associating with researchers to develop a breath system to help these patients. In 1997, he decided to fill the gaping need by selling breath products via a website he had developed. Over the years, the website gained traction through word-of-mouth and doctor referrals, establishing viable market presence in Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Malaysia and Singapore. The online business eventually spun off a brick-and-mortar equivalent – the clinic franchise known as the Australian Breath Clinic. With locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Malaysia, the dedicated bad breath centres provide patients a unique combination of treatment protocols and patented products.
Clinic patients receive a three-pronged treatment covering: diagnosis – using a Halicheck gas chromograph and saliva examination to ascertain pH acid levels, saliva volume and buffering capacity; balance – balancing the mouth and throat bacteria using products scientifically proven at the Australian Breath Clinic; as well as maintenance – restoring and maintaining a healthy balance of good bacteria by using an amazing microbiology discovery from Otago University called BLIS K12.
Where possible, Speiser encourages patients to undergo the supervised treatment program at the clinics, but wants to assure his online customers that they too can expect healthy success rates.
“We have at least a 95 per cent success rate for patients that go through our Breath Clinic and about a 80 per cent success rate for patients that buy from the Internet but do not consult us. The reason for the difference is the patient understanding of the problem and how to adapt our products specifically to their needs,” he clarifies.
With an aim to “tackle all sources of bacteria and biofilm that cause bad breath, halitosis and taste change”, Speiser’s Breath Recovery Program comprises the following items: Balance Biofilm Cleanser to remove coatings from teeth, gums and tongue; Breath Guard Oral Gel to clean the tongue and teeth surfaces; Breath Guard K12 Probiotic to place healthy bacteria to control the mouth flora; Sinoclear Hypertonic Flush to remove new mucous from the throat; and Orasweet Tongue Cleaner to properly clean sulphur compounds from the tongue.
“The treatment is ongoing – we modify the patients’ cleaning habits, lifestyle habits even as we colonize the patient’s mouth with our patent Probiotics BLIS K12,” Speiser adds.
“Our kits and products are unique and patented, therefore the cost-to-benefit is great. We have no competitive products and are unique in the world.”
Regularly featured on television and radio programmes, the dentist enjoys a unique profile as one of few public figures who can speak authoritatively on a universal ailment that has plagued people of all ages and walks of life. Being in the public’s gaze has also helped generate buzz and business for Speiser’s Breezecare products while nudging expansion plans in the right direction.
Despite the economic downturn, Speiser was recently in the news for setting up a clinic – housing five clinic offices and a private hospital – in Malaysia. The Southeast Asian venture, located in Malaysia’s second largest city of Kota Kinabalu, is part of an expansion plan to globalise the Breath Centre franchise.
The future-oriented dentist shares his grandiose vision of setting up a network of clinics throughout the world, and linking them via Internet technology to a clinical hub from which he can personally give support and deliver instantaneous information. He enthuses:
“We can email the results back and forth and talk on Skype daily – even communicate whilst the patient sits in the chair. Our aim is for these Breath Centres to become advocates that not only use our product and protocols but will help spread our message.”
Meanwhile, hot on the heels of the Kota Kinabalu project, Speiser has set his sights on setting up another branch in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur; and earmarked several other hotspots.
“After Malaysia we see the UK as our biggest market. We are opening a clinic in Manchester in April and hope to open in London very quickly after that. I notice a lot of similarities between the UK and Australian patient so we are concentrating on this market,” Speiser reveals.
Besides treating dental and breath patients, Speiser is also an advisor for Allexperts.com, an Internet site that offers free advise for health problems. He personally answers queries on his 2500 hits-per-day Breezecare website, tackling a variety of issues including bad breath, halitosis, post nasal drip, dry mouth, sour taste and taste disorders, ulcers and sores of the mouth and tongue.
Shuttling between clinic appointments, business meetings and media appearances, Speiser’s demanding schedule shows an insatiable appetite for work, and more evidently, enduring passion for his craft. In fact, Speiser is convinced that treating bad breath has given him greater satisfaction than full-time dental work. He testifies:
“I love what I do. When patients recognise our efforts to solve their problems and protect them from undue embarrassment, I am humbled by their appreciation and respect for our work.”
Nonetheless, when giving a word of advice to dentists keen on expanding their career options, Speiser cautions on having the wrong motivation.
“Research any ancillary service you undertake. Make sure you fully understand and are passionate about the service,” Speiser emphasises, “If you do a treatment for money’s sake, then you will not see long-term rewards.”