Cute young woman's eyes shine above a piece of paper showing off a big smileWe know that bad breath is a nuisance, but for people with chronic bad breath, sometimes called halitosis, the impact can be severe. And now a new study shows just how severe bad breath can be, making people twice as unhappy with their oral health, creating anxiety about bad breath, and impacting their social interactions on a daily basis.

Ooh That Smell

This study comes from China where 204 people were asked about their oral health and its impact on their quality of life. The sample included 102 people with halitosis and 102 controls. Researchers then analyzed their responses.

The survey used was the Oral Health Impact Profile, called the OHIP-14 because it has 14 questions. This is a quick and easy survey that looks at 7 areas where oral health can impact your quality of life:

  • Functional limitations
  • Physical pain
  • Psychological discomfort
  • Physical disability
  • Psychological disability
  • Social disability
  • Handicap

People who take the survey rate how often they’re impacted in various areas, on a scale from “never” to “very often.” OHIP-14 is a standard tool for measuring the oral health-related quality of life. It’s commonly used because it’s been thoroughly validated for accuracy.

Researchers found that the average score for people with halitosis was nearly double that of people without halitosis (15.7 vs. 7.9), showing a significant severity to the impact of bad breath. And, on average, they had 1.8 items with negative impact, compared to just 0.3 for the controls. Over half the people with halitosis (56%) marked at least one item saying it impacted their quality of life “fairly often” or “very often,” compared to just 21% of people without halitosis. This shows how often people with halitosis feel bad breath anxiety.

People with halitosis experience commonly have negative experiences because of their bad breath.

Older woman in blue sweater looks shocked while covering her mouth do to bad breath

Take Bad Breath Seriously

It’s important to take bad breath seriously. Not only can it have a significant psychological impact, but it’s a sign that your oral health may be at risk.

There are many common causes of bad breath. One cause is poor oral hygiene. If you’re not cleaning your teeth properly, then food in your teeth can begin to decay, giving off a foul odor.

However, severe bad breath may also be related to oral bacteria, especially anaerobic bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria “breathe” compounds other than oxygen, and many of them utilize sulfur. The sulfuric gasses they excrete are responsible for your bad breath.

To counter bad breath, start by changing your oral hygiene routine. Brush twice a day, floss every day, and rinse your mouth with water after every meal. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can also help trap bacteria and food particles. Don’t forget to clean your tongue, too. And make your regular dental checkups to keep your mouth healthy.

If severe bad breath persists, it may be related to bacteria in places you can’t reach. This can include gum disease] where bacteria are growing underneath your gums, or an infected tooth where bacteria are sheltered from brushing. Both of these are serious threats to your teeth, and can even put your life in danger.

How Effective Are Oxygen Compounds for Fresh Breath?

If anaerobic bacteria releasing sulfur compounds is the problem, could oxygen compounds help with bad breath? Possibly. There is limited clinical evidence that using oxidizing compounds could suppress bad breath for extended periods of time. How long? Some compounds claim up to 24 hours, however, we have not seen studies that test the effectiveness at longer than six hours.

In addition, the studies we have seen are all conducted by the manufacturers and therefore have a high likelihood of bias. If you have persistent bad breath, it’s important to make sure it’s not related to serious oral health problems. Then you can try oxygen compounds for fresh breath or use other strategies like probiotics.

You should never ignore bad breath: it’s a sign that something could be seriously wrong with your oral health. If you are looking for an Anchorage dentist to help maintain your health, please call (907) 349-0022 today for an appointment at Excellence in Dentistry.