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Smell and odours play a vital role in social interaction. Bad breath is very public as it occurs in a social context. Offensive mouth odour cannot be contained and can be very offensive to partners, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. Breath odour, good, bad or neutral, is part of our connection with the surrounding world. Like it or not, smell and odours affect us physically, psychologically, emotionally and socially.We donít all like or accept the same smells.

Breath odour (oral malodour/halitosis):

"Halitosis is a general term denoting unpleasant breath arising from physiological and pathological causes from oral and systemic sources. The principal underlying reason for occurrence of this condition in different individuals is usually related to one specific source. As the halitus is emitted through the mouth it is admixed and tainted with malodorous volatile compounds emanating from the oral cavity. Thus the oral malodour becomes a contributing or frequently dominant component of offensive breath." (Tonzetich, J., "Production and Origin of Oral Malodour: A Review of Mechanisms and Analysis,"J. Periodontology48 (1): 13-20, 1977.)

Breath odour is a difficult issue to approach, yet needs to be addressed because some uncontrolled or untreated systemic conditions such as diabetes and liver disease have characteristic odours. In other cases, due to the emotional nature of relationships, bad breath may not be objectively perceived and might go unreported or not be discussed.

The affliction of bad breath real or imagined is very personal and can lower a personís self image and confidence. Unfortunately individuals canít smell themselves, and smell unlike sight, canít be seen like an image in a mirror. Since smells and odours have such a high ability to produce emotional responses, defense tactics such as negative body language may be used around people with bad breath. These defense behaviours can erode an individualís confidence and self-image.

Nasal and oral malodour together can indicate systemic disease.A person with systemic disease needs medical treatment. Pathological disease, medical conditions, hormones, saliva, stress and/or dietary factors can influence oral bacterial production and their smelly by-products that sit on the tongue and gums. Breath odour problems require assessment.