Alleviating Unpleasent Breath for Added Confidence

csm luke thorley

Luke Thorley from Welling Corner Dental Practice is highly experienced in aesthetic dentistry, endodontics and facial aesthetics. He talks about the sensitive issue of halitosis and how to enhance patient confidence.

Luke Thorley from Welling Corner Dental Practice is highly experienced in aesthetic dentistry, endodontics and facial aesthetics. He talks about the sensitive issue of halitosis and how to enhance patient confidence.

Halitosis is an immensely delicate subject to discuss and often you can sense when a patient has a problem but are too embarrassed to bring it up. I think it is important to give people plenty of time to speak about their worries particularly when it comes to unpleasent breath. 

Most patients are self-aware of unpleasent breath, having identified it themselves or had it mentioned by a partner or close relative, and broach the subject with me because they want to find the cause. There are very rare occasions when I might need to mention halitosis to patients but I would always be extremely careful not to embarrass them. If these circumstances did arise, I would gently reveal that I have detected an odour coming from the mouth and that I would like to investigate it further. In general however, I would wait until the patient mentioned it to me.

It is interesting that as you gain more experience, you become more able to detect the cause of different oral odours. For example, dental decay, periodontal disease and acid reflux all have a unique smell. In the same way, when smoking, coffee or certain foods are the culprit, there are distinctive but subtle differences in the breath. It could be said that this skill is similar to that of a wine connoisseur who can smell the variances between the bouquets of different wines.

Halitosis can really knock a patient's confidence. I have encountered people that have become self-conscious and very withdrawn as a result of unpleasant breath. I have also known patients to isolate themselves at work and socially, making excuses not to get too close to people and removing themselves from certain situations because they have been so worried about halitosis. A seven-year Swiss study reiterated this when halitosis was found to bring about inhibition, insecurity, withdrawal and reduced social contact in chronic sufferers.1

Many people choose a mouth rinse which has been made popular by a strong advertising campaign or clever marketing. However, much of the time these rinses could make halitosis worse. They may reduce gingivitis or temporarily mask unpleasant breath, but they do not get to the root of the problem. The reason why I recommend CB12 mouth rinse is because it specifically targets unpleasant breath and has been proven to neutralise odour-causing Volatile Sulphur Compounds better than 18 other leading mouthwash brands.2

Although I have read the research behind CB12 I think that patient feedback is even more important. It informs me first hand how a product impacts on them. For example, I recently had a call from a friend who had a job interview the following week and was concerned because his breath smelt awful and he really needed help. He did not want to attend originally because he was so anxious about sitting in close proximity to the interviewer, so I recommended that he try CB12. After the interview he contacted me to say that he had used the rinse and that it had made a huge difference to his confidence. He got the job and I was delighted to be able to help him.

In the short term, discussing halitosis can cause a bit of awkwardness but in if the subject is approached sensitively, it can enhance patient trust in the long run. If a patient has been suffering with halitosis for a while and you are able relieve it with an effective solution, you then have a patient for life. I find it very rewarding when I can reduce the stress and worry of an unpleasant breath problem and solve it for my patients.


1. Andrea Zürcher, Andreas Filippi, Dept of Oral Surgery, University of Basel. 'Findings, Diagnoses and Results of a Halitosis Clinic over a Seven Year Period'. Schweiz Monatsschr Zahnmed. [Swiss Monthly Journal of Dentistry] 3/2012 Vol. 122 pp. 205-21

2. Greenman et. al., Oral Diseases, Comparative effects of various commercially available mouth rinse formulations on oral malodour, (2011), 17:180-186

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