Most people with bad breath or dry mouth are not aware that their situation can be improved, and what’s more, that their problem actually has a solution.
Halitosis and xerostomia are two very widespread conditions, although most people are unaware that they have them, nor are they aware of the impact these conditions potentially have on their health. For this reason, on World Oral Health Day, DENTAID would like to dispel some misconceptions that surround these two medical conditions.
1 Misconception: low prevalence
Halitosis emerges as a combination of unpleasant odours that emanate from the oral cavity and that are caused by the accumulation of bacteria between and on teeth, gums and the tongue dorsum. A third of the population has this problem, which can cause significant psychological alterations and ultimately lead to situations involving social and professional seclusion.
Xeriostomia, on the other hand, is a subjective dry mouth sensation affecting 20-40% of the population – mostly female, older and polymedicated patients. Despite this high percentage, many patients downplay their situation or believe that it is temporary. Because they do not consider it to be a medical condition, they do not tend to report it until other, more serious oral complications arise.
2 Misconception: wrong aetiology
Although it is widely believed that halitosis does not originate in the oral cavity, but rather is due to gastrointestinal problems, the truth is that 90% of all cases have an oral source. Only the remaining 10% are due to extraoral factors: nasopharyngeal, gastric or systemic (caused by diseases including diabetes or liver or lung disorders).
In regard to xerostomia, many patients believe that it is a physiological, temporary and/or intrinsic condition. However, its most common causes are very diverse: systemic diseases (such as diabetes), moments of stress or anxiety, heavy smoking and/or alcohol consumption, cancer treatments, certain drugs (over 500 can cause xersotomia as a side effect: analgesics, antidepressants, antihistamines, etc.), etc.
3 Misconception: no specific specialist exists
Many patients with xerostomia or halitosis do not associate the dentist as the specialist responsible for their diagnosis and treatment, and they try to find a solution on their own, or they consult other health professionals. Therefore, dentists and hygienists need to insist on the prevention of these conditions, as well as on their diagnosis and treatment.
4 Misconception: there is no solution or treatment
Most of those who suffer from xerostomia or halitosis are unaware that their problem can be solved. For halitosis, it is very common for people to use products that hide the bad odour, without treating it.