How many people suffer from halitosis at any one time? Estimates vary, but most dental health authorities put the number at about one-half of the population. That may sound like a lot, but almost any dentist or bad breath expert will tell you it's just about right.
A study published in the Belgian journal Revue Medicale de Liege fixes the prevalence of oral odor in a given moment at 50 percent of all people. In fact, the 1999 report notes that the true incidence of halitosis may be as high as 65 percent.
The authors, a group of periodontologists from the University of Liege's CHU Institute of Dentistry, noted that a few cases - they place the number a bit below one in 10 - are caused by postnasal drip, sinus infections or other bacterial afflictions of the throat and nose. Likewise, pungent foods and smoking can cause bad breath as well.
That said, the vast majority of cases of halitosis are related to oral bacteria. A paper published three years previously in the New York State Dental Journal fixed the ratio of halitosis cases caused by microorganisms at 90 percent. The Belgian report agreed with this figure.
Both studies pointed to gingivitis, periodontal disease, canker sores, tooth decay and tartar buildup as common causes of oral odor. The Belgians added that failure to floss between teeth or to remove protein scum from the top of the tongue were also widely prevalent origins of bad breath.
Since microbes are such a problem, reducing their numbers with a specialty breath freshening product may be an effective way to limit your halitosis. A deluxe rinse, toothpaste, breath strip, lozenge or mint should also be able to neutralize odor compounds.
Why be part of the odiferous 50 percent, when you can easily find out for yourself how the other half lives?