A new study, published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, looked at the impact of bad breath in relation to people’s quality of life and found that, on average, people who suffered from bad breath were found to be twice as unhappy as those who didn’t.
By questioning people on specific aspects of their day-to-day lives, the study uncovered those with bad breath had 500% more negative experiences than those with fresh breath.
Many of the people who suffered from bad breath said that it negatively impacted them psychologically, in key areas such as self-esteem and confidence.
The strong links between oral health, lifestyle and mental health illustrated by this study has prompted leading charity, the Oral Health Foundation, to encourage people to maintain a good oral health routine and consider the wider health issues associated with poor oral health.
Speaking on the issue, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: ‘This research is very interesting as it is looking at the important psychological relationship between oral health and mental wellbeing.
‘Having a good oral health routine can help to improve a person’s outlook on life, positively impact upon their professional life and potentially even improve their personal relationships. Being rid of bad breath can be an important part of this and is usually relatively easy to achieve.
‘Bad breath is a very common problem and there are many different causes, it’s not always down to that cheese and onion sandwich at lunchtime. If someone suffers from persistent bad breath it is usually caused by the smelly gases released by the bacteria that coat your teeth, gums and tongue.
‘Also, bits of food that get caught between the teeth and on the tongue can rot and sometimes cause an unpleasant smell. It is relatively easy to get rid of as long as you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
‘Using a mouthwash or sugar-free chewing gum can also be an option in ridding bad breath, but if your bad breath is persistent it is important to get it checked out by your dental team as soon as possible as it could be a sign of gum disease or tooth decay.
‘Gum disease and tooth decay are caused by the same bacteria that cause halitosis, usually called plaque. One of the warning signs of gum disease is that you always have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, if left untreated this can lead to pain discomfort and even tooth loss.
‘Your dental team will be able to see and treat the problem during a check-up and the earlier the problems are found, the more effective the treatment will be.
‘So if you think you might have bad breath, there is a simple test that you can do. Just lick the inside of your wrist, wait for it to dry and sniff – if the smell is bad, you can be fairly sure that your breath is too.
‘Or, ask a very good friend to be absolutely honest with you; but do make sure they are a really good friend or you may affect their happiness.’
Lu H, Chen X, Wong M, Zhu C, Ye W (2016) Oral health impact of halitosis in Chinese adults. Int J Dent Hygiene