Characteristics of 2000 patients who visited a halitosis clinic

J Clin Periodontol. 2009 Nov;36(11):970-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.2009.01478.x. Epub 2009 Oct 6.


Aims: The aim of this paper was to analyse the aetiology and characteristics of 2000 patients who visited a multidisciplinary bad breath clinic in Leuven, Belgium and to correlate organoleptic ratings with portable device measurements.

Materials and methods: The characteristics and aetiology of breath malodour of two thousand consecutive patients who visited a halitosis consultation were explored by means of a standard questionnaire and a clinical examination, including organoleptic scores provided by a trained and calibrated judge, and a portable bad breath detector (Halimeter).

Results: Most patients came without referral and had complaints for several years (mean: 7 years, SD: 8 years). For 76% of the patients, an oral cause was found [tongue coating (43%), gingivitis/periodontitis (11%) or a combination of the two (18%)]. Pseudo-halitosis/halitophobia was diagnosed in 16% of the cases; and ear, nose and throat/extra-oral causes were found in 4% of the patients. Most patients had an organoleptic score <3 and a Halimeter value <240 p.p.b.

Conclusions: Even though it was observed that halitosis has a predominantly oral origin, a multidisciplinary approach remains necessary to identify ear, nose and throat or extra-oral pathologies and/or pseudo-halitosis/halitophobia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breath Tests / instrumentation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / complications
  • Gingivitis / complications
  • Halitosis / diagnosis*
  • Halitosis / etiology
  • Halitosis / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / complications
  • Patient Care Team
  • Periodontitis / complications
  • Physical Examination
  • Smell
  • Sulfur Compounds / analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Tongue / pathology
  • Young Adult


  • Sulfur Compounds