In the U.S., bad breath is a widespread problem. Most experts estimate that halitosis affects one-quarter of all Americans at any one time. Does this ratio hold true in radically different cultures, like those found in Africa? According to the latest research, it does.
Given that all of us suffer from oral odor at some point, and that humans apparently originated on the veldts and savannahs of Africa, you might say that bad breath has been a problem there longer than anywhere.
Do Africans have oral odor as regularly as Americans? Do they complain about it more or less often? What tends to cause bad breath among Africans? These questions and more like them have been answered by a series of studies.
Consider a report released in the Libyan Journal of Medicine, which found that the country's office workers report having halitosis in fairly high numbers. The authors surveyed hundreds of Libyan employees, determining that 44 percent of men and 54 percent of women suspected that they had bad breath.
Those numbers are very close to those recorded in other continents, the authors noted. However, this does not mean that African mouths are without their share of oral health problems. The paper found that about one-half of the population suffered from cavities. Also, Libyan men were 17 times more likely than women to smoke!
Another study conducted in South Africa found that just 54 percent of respondents brushed their teeth more than once a day (never mind using specialty breath freshening products).
What are African countries doing to prevent bad breath? First, anyone with bad breath should consider trying specialty breath freshening products. More specifically to Africa, the World Health Organization has recommended that Africans try to improve their general health in order to avoid chronic oral disease. A report published in the journal South African Family Practice added that adopting mouthwash could accomplish this.