But many people don’t take it seriously, despite the fact that bad breath can be a sign of serious oral health problems, as well as a cause of significant emotional and social stress. A new study has attempted to quantify the impact of bad breath on people’s quality of life, and we are sharing their results in the hopes that more people will take their bad breath seriously.
The Impact of Halitosis
For this study, researchers surveyed 102 people with halitosis and 102 people without halitosis about their oral health and its impact on their quality of life.
The study used a standard tool for measuring these questions, called the OHIP-14 (the Oral Health Impact Profile). The OHIP-14 includes 14 questions focused on 7 areas of potential impact, including:
- Psychological discomfort
- Physical pain
- Physical disability
- Psychological disability
- Functional limitations
- Social disability
The questions ask for responses saying how often they experience a particular phenomenon, such as “Have you been self-conscious because of your teeth, mouth, or dentures?” People respond with a frequency ranging from “Never” to “Very Often.” This tool has been validated for its accuracy both in English and in translation.
The OHIP score for people with halitosis was nearly double that of those without halitosis (15.7 vs. 7.9). They also had an average of 1.8 items with negative impact compared to only 0.3 for the controls. The people with halitosis were much more likely to say oral health problems impacted their quality of life “fairly often” or “very often” (56% for halitosis vs. 21% for control).
Take Bad Breath Seriously
If you are experiencing bad breath, it’s not just something to hide. It’s something to get treatment for. Not only can bad breath impact your social interactions and quality of life, it can be a sign that you have serious oral health problems that can threaten your teeth and more.
We’ve talked about 10 potential causes for your bad breath. This includes simple things like food you ate recently, but it can also be a warning sign that you’re not doing enough to clean your teeth.
Or it can be a sign that oral bacteria have established a presence in your mouth. They may be infecting the area around your teeth, causing gum disease and making a larger area for them to populate, which will lead to more bad breath, tooth loss, and potentially other health effects. They may also be established inside one of your teeth. Once a tooth becomes infected, it requires a root canal to treat. And if it’s not treated, the infection can spread.
You can try taking some steps to improve your oral hygiene. Try ending every meal by rinsing your mouth with water. You can also try sugar-free gum, which removes food particles and bacteria from your teeth. Make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day to ensure you’re cleaning them adequately.
But if bad breath persists, it’s time to see a dentist. Regular checkups may be all that’s necessary to keep your bad breath under control, but if additional treatments are necessary, we can locate the source of your bad breath and eliminate it.