If you've never visited a breath clinic, you might be fascinated to know what goes on in them. After all, while they address oral health in ways that overlap with dentistry, they're distinctly different from a dentist's office. The tools they use, the approaches they take and the specialty breath fresheners they recommend are unique to them. They're the first and last clinical line of defense against the enemy: bad breath!
Recently, a pair of Swiss experts wanted the world to know what it's like working in a breath clinic. So they collected seven years' worth of data and crammed it all into one fascinating little report.
The duo published it in the Swiss Monthly Journal of Dentistry. (For a tongue twister, try saying the publication's title in the original Swiss German: Schweizer Monatsschrift fur Zahnmedizin.)
What it reveals about bad breath, oral health and their connection to daily life is positively gripping.
1. Most people really do have bad breath. When you suspect that you've got bad breath, odds are good that you actually have it. The breath clinicians, who hail from the University of Basel, estimated that four in five of their patients actually have halitosis. (Remember, everyone who walks into a breath clinic thinks they have oral odor.)
2. Almost all bad breath starts in your mouth. Forget what you've heard about halitosis starting in the stomach or lungs. These notions aren't wrong, but they're rare. The authors found that, out of more than 450 case studies they'd kept, just 3 percent involved non-oral causes of bad breath.
3. Halitosis stinks. More than 30 percent of patients reported having suffered from chronic bad breath for more than a decade. And when they said "suffered," they meant it: Nearly all of them felt that their halitosis led to " inhibition, insecurity, isolation, withdrawal, reduced social contact, problems in relationships, less talking by an unwillingness to speak or by keeping a distance to others."
4. Rarely, oral odor is in your head. The key word being rarely. Researchers found that in 2 percent of cases, the sensation of halitosis was "psychogenic" in origin. The clinicians noted that women are more likely to suffer from this than men.
5. Breath clinics work. The pair calculated that in 94 percent of cases, their recommendations for using specialty breath fresheners resulted in improvements in oral odor, which they proved using a halimeter.