Home Health & Wellness Halitosis Linked to Introversion and Social Distress, Suggests New Study

Halitosis Linked to Introversion and Social Distress, Suggests New Study

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Recent research published in Oral Diseases sheds light on the intricate relationship between halitosis and psychological health, revealing significant findings about how this common condition affects personality traits and mental well-being. A team from Shanghai Jiao Tong University conducted the study, which emphasizes the need for comprehensive treatment strategies that address both the physical and psychological aspects of halitosis.

Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is a prevalent condition affecting 10% to 65% of people worldwide. In China, its prevalence is approximately 27.5%. Halitosis can be categorised into objective halitosis, subjective halitosis, and halitophobia. Objective halitosis, in which other people can smell a distinct smell, is mostly caused by microbes breaking down food in the mouth, which makes volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs) like hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan, and dimethyl sulphide.

The study aimed to compare the personalities, social avoidance and distress, and anxiety status of Chinese patients with and without objective halitosis. Researchers enrolled 280 participants, with 146 in the halitosis group and 134 in the control group. Each participant completed several psychological assessments, including the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ), Social Avoidance and Distress Scale (SAD), and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI).

The research revealed that patients with objective halitosis tend to have more introverted personality traits compared to those without the condition. Specifically, the extraversion subscale (E) scores of the EPQ were significantly lower in the halitosis group (51.82 ± 9.86) compared to the control group (55.93 ± 10.57). Additionally, the total SAD score and the proportion of patients with anxiety symptoms were higher in the halitosis group. The study found a negative correlation between the extraversion subscale and the total SAD score, indicating that lower extraversion is associated with higher social avoidance and distress .

These findings suggest that halitosis is not merely a physical condition but also has profound psychological implications. Patients with objective halitosis are more likely to experience social anxiety and avoidance, which can significantly impact their quality of life. The study highlights the importance of considering psychological support as part of the treatment plan for halitosis. By addressing the mental health aspects, healthcare providers can help improve overall treatment outcomes and enhance patients’ well-being.

The researchers advocate for a multidisciplinary approach to treating halitosis, emphasising the need for psychological counselling alongside conventional clinical treatments. This approach can help mitigate the social and emotional challenges faced by patients, promoting better long-term outcomes. The study also calls for further research to explore the psychological profiles of patients with different types of halitosis, including subjective halitosis and halitophobia, to develop more tailored and effective treatment strategies.

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