Self-estimation of oral malodor

J Dent Res. 1995 Sep;74(9):1577-82. doi: 10.1177/00220345950740091201.


Bad breath (halitosis, oral malodor) is a common condition, usually the result of microbial putrefaction within the oral cavity. Often, people suffering from bad breath remain unaware of it, whereas others remain convinced that they suffer from foul oral malodor, although there is no evidence for such. The purpose of the present investigation was to determine whether objective self-measurement of oral malodors is possible. Each of 52 volunteers was asked to sample the odor from his/her mouth, tongue, and saliva. Results were compared with (i) self-assessments prior to (preconception) and following (post-measurement) self-measurements; (ii) odor judge scores; (iii) dental-measurements (plaque index, gingival index, and probing depth); (iv) volatile sulphide levels; (v) salivary cadaverine levels; and (vi) intra-oral trypsin-like activity. Among the self-measurements, only saliva self-scores yielded significant correlations with objective parameters. Despite the partial objectivity of saliva self-estimates, subsequent post-measurement self-assessments failed to correlate with objective parameters. The results suggest that (i) preconceived notions confound the ability to score one's own oral malodors in an objective fashion; and (ii) partial objectivity can be obtained in the case of saliva self-measurement, presumably because the stimulus is removed from the body proper.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Benzoylarginine-2-Naphthylamide
  • Cadaverine / analysis
  • Dental Plaque Index
  • Female
  • Halitosis / diagnosis
  • Halitosis / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Periodontal Index
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / enzymology
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Smell
  • Sulfides / analysis
  • Tongue
  • Trypsin / metabolism


  • Sulfides
  • Benzoylarginine-2-Naphthylamide
  • Trypsin
  • Cadaverine