Every fourth person on the Earth is affected by bad breath. But what is the reason that bad breath, also called halitosis, is such a common occurrence? And does that mean that most people are aware of its causes, treatments, specifics? 

We explored the awareness of 5,791 respondents globally of popular notions about bad breath. 

See people’s opinions on these and many more matters to check how they compare to the actual facts. 


#1: Food can contribute to bad breath: FACT

Eating garlic or other strong-smelling foods can indeed lead to foul breath. And 90% of DentaVox respondents correctly recognize this fact. 

Other foods causing bad breath are onions, citrus fruits (odor-causing bacteria loves acids), horseradish, cheese, fish. However, in most cases, the odors resulting from smelly foods quickly go away. If they don’t, it is probably time to consult your dentist as the actual reason may lay elsewhere.  


#2: Breathing into my hand will allow me to check my breath: MYTH

Over half of the respondents believe that it is very easy to check one’s breath by just breathing into their hand. And this is not surprising as from a young age we see people on television and in real life checking their breath this way before meeting someone they like. 

However, talking and breathing engage the throat and breath in different ways. Unlike breathing, when one talks, they bring forward air from the back of the throat, which is where odors usually originate from. Thus, breathing into your hand will not give you a full picture of your breath’s condition. 


#3: The main reason for bad breath is stomach / digestive issues: MYTH

According to more than 60% of the DentaVox survey respondents, stomach problems are the most common cause of bad breath. 

But although digestive issues might contribute to halitosis, they are not the main reason for it. More than three-quarters of the bad breath problems originate in the mouth with periodontitis/gingivitis and tongue coating being the most common cause. Here are the other most usual sources of bad breath: 

common reasons bad breath dentavox blog


#4: Mouthwash gets rid of bad breath permanently: MYTH

Mouthwash, mints, and chewing gum are good examples of go-to strategies when you want to quickly and temporarily get rid of halitosis. 70% of DentaVox interviewees correctly point out that the effect of rinsing with mouthwash is not permanent. 

It is important to note, though, that a few trials showed that if mouthwashes contain antibacterial compounds such as chlorhexidine, they could not only mask but neutralize unpleasant smells to an extent. Yet, the authors called for more trials to be done before concluding about the effectiveness.


#5: Professional tooth cleaning helps remove odor-causing bacteria: FACT

Professional removal of plaque and tartar is mandatory for maintaining good oral health. Its effect on bad breath is also crucial, as nearly 90% of survey participants notice. 

Not only does professional teeth cleaning remove the odor-causing bacteria but it is also essential for preventing gum disease which is the most common cause of chronic bad breath. 


#6: Chewing gum can eliminate bad breath permanently: MYTH 

Eight in ten people truthfully recognize that chewing gum has a rather temporary influence on foul breath. On top of that, some chewing gums contain sugar (or substitutes) that actually feed the bacteria, creating an even stronger odor and further problems at the end!


#7: There is no cure for bad breath: MYTH

The largest share of DentaVox interviewees (83%) do not agree with this statement and believe that there is a cure for halitosis.

When it comes to science, several studies also indicate a 90% success rate in curing bad breath. The most efficient therapy, of course, depends on the origin of the problem. For periodontitis-caused bad breath, for example, periodontal treatment is proven to give excellent results while the removal of tonsils could be the right therapy in case the odor originates in the ear, nose, and throat area. 

Here are some other general strategies that could work against bad breath:

ways fight bad breath dentavox blog


#8: Drinking enough water contributes to fighting bad breath: FACT

Water is also essential in the fight against halitosis as the majority of survey participants (71%) claim. With dry mouth being among the most common causes of bad breath, it is important to keep your mouth moist, avoid tobacco and drink plenty of water. Please note that coffee, soft drinks, or alcohol cannot replace water in this regard. They can even lead to a drier mouth. 


#9: I can have bad breath even though I brush my teeth regularly: FACT

Over 80% of DentaVox respondents believe that brushing teeth regularly is not a secure enough measure against foul breath. And rightly so. 

Although perfect brushing technique is undoubtedly important, in some cases it is not sufficient to completely eliminate halitosis. A tongue scraper, mouthwash, and dental floss are other crucial tools to turn to. But don’t forget: If there is an underlying disease – within or outside the oral cavity – the effect of good oral hygiene will still be temporary. Speak to your dentist about the best therapy for you. 


#10: Alcohol kills germs and thus helps eliminate bad breath: MYTH

One-fifth of survey participants think alcohol can easily get rid of bad breath as it just kills the germs that cause it. 

Experts strongly disagree here and warn that alcohol leads to dry mouth which hinders the saliva washing down food particles in the mouth, as well as the odor they cause. 


Which of those myths and facts were you aware of?

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Stats source: DentaVox, 20 Questions: Bad Breath
Base: 5791 respondents (global sample)
Period: 03/06-20/07/2021