Psychological and social consequences
Although people do not usually share their anxiety about their breath with others, it has been demonstrated that is an issue that causes a great deal of concern. In a survey carried out on 3,290 people in Japan, 20% indicated that they felt “constantly on edge and worried” about the state of their breath, with 60% of those surveyed indicating that they felt this way “occasionally”. Only 20% of the participants claimed that they “never get worried about breath”.
This preoccupation with the breath is evidenced by the massive sales of mouthwashes and chewing gums from supermarkets, newsstands and service stations.
A US study carried out in 1994 concluded that profits obtained from the sales of such products exceeded 1.5 billion GBP. Another survey indicated that roughly 60% of women and 50% of men use products specifically designed to improve the breath on a regular basis
A person’s awareness of suffering from halitosis, whether genuine or imaginary often has some degree of impact on their behaviour and emotions, which can have severe repercussions on quality of life (irrespective of the person’s cultural or social level).
Effects on behaviour
Another pioneering scientific study, carried out by researchers at the Breath Institute, observed various defensive behaviours in the conduct of halitosis sufferers who were aware of their condition (in an attempt to hide their halitosis or to minimise its impact on others). These defensive behaviours included:
- Limiting oral communication (especially in small or enclosed spaces)
- Keeping greater personal distance
- Increased reliance on communication via signs or gestures
- Covering the mouth with the hand
- Shorter exhalation times
Other kinds of behaviour have also been found in those who worry about having bad breath. Aware of the implications that suffering from halitosis entails, and in a desperate attempt to mask the odour in order to be socially accepted, these individuals brush their teeth compulsively (over 5 times a day), frequently use mouthwashes and chewing gum, and even go so far as to take up smoking. However, these solutions are ineffective as they only succeed in hiding the problem temporarily.
Psychological and emotional impact
Based on the results of numerous studies carried out by the Breath Institute on considerably large population samples, we have been able to unequivocally demonstrate that halitosis limits the sufferer’s social life, increases anxiety, interferes with intimate relationships, and decreases their overall happiness.
The most common psychological effects range from a lack of confidence or low self –esteem, to anxiety or stress. In some cases, halitosis sufferers are laughed at and teased by those in close proximity to them (colleagues or classmates, for example). Some patients even claim to have been discriminated against in professional situations, or to have experienced family traumas, such as marital separation.
According to leading US medical database (PubMed/Medline), cases of suicide have even been reported in which halitosis was cited as the biggest personal setback in life.
Evidence of the severe impact of halitosis on a person’s life is the remission of its psychological effects after successful treatment. In 2010, the Breath Institute published the results of a treatment received by a group of patients, demonstrating some beneficial effects.
|EFFECT||MEASUREMENT SCALE USED BY THE BREATH INSTITUTE|
|Remission of cases of anxiety and depression||Ansiety and Depression Scale (de Zigmond)|
|SWLS – Satisfaction With Life Scale (de Dinier)|
|Aumento de la frecuencia de emociones positivas en detrimento de las negativas||PANAS – Positive And Negative Affect Schedule (de Watson, Clark & Tellegen)|
|Increased frequency of positive emotions over negative ones||OHIP – Oral Health Impact Profile (de Slade e Spencer)|
In short, the results of the study confirmed our intuitions: halitosis has the biggest impact on a social and psychological level. When compared to other pathological conditions within the fields of stomatology and dental medicine (for example, chronic pain and temporomandibular dysfunction, burning mouth syndrome, the use of dentures, etc.), halitosis obtained higher impact levels. There is no mistake that although bad breath rarely puts a patient’s life at risk, greater consideration must be given to the condition, not only by healthcare professionals, but also by the families and friends of sufferers.
The Breath Institute has discovered, on the basis of the latest international research, that there are over 80 possible causes of halitosis.
1. The composition of halitosis (bad breath)
2. Causes of halitosis (bad breath)
2.1 Oral causes
2.2 Respiratory causes
2.3 Digestive causes
2.4 Systemic causes, diet and habits
2.5 Neuropsychological causes
We identify the most effective clinical methods when diagnosing precisely the halitosis’ origin, so that you can chose the best treatment.