Ninety-two percent of dentists report seeing patients with chronic bad breath, according to the 1995 ADA/Colgate Oral Health Trend Survey, conducted at the ADA annual scientific session held in Las Vegas in October. More than one-third (41 percent) of dentists see six or more patients a week with chronic bad breath; and 81 percent say they see more men than women who have bad breath.
The survey, sponsored by Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, polled 556 dentists about general, oral-care trends. The survey was administered by Pathfinder Research Group of Acton, Massachusetts, an independent market-research firm.
According to the survey, 63 percent of dentists indicate that lack of good oral hygiene is the leading cause of bad breath, and 51 percent say that the most effective treatment is regular dental cleanings with oral-hygiene instruction.
"You cannot overlook bad breath, not just for the sake of people around you, but for your own well-being," says Christopher Fox, DMD, director of global professional relations for Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals. "Bad breath can be an indicator of a health problem, so you should determine its cause. According to the trend survey, 21 percent of dentists rank periodontal disease as the second, most-common cause of bad breath.
The survey also addressed care for special populations and service to special-needs populations.
The survey reveals that 60 percent of dentists volunteer or provide free community dental services. Also, 72 percent of dentists would be more likely to volunteer if they had access to structured programs.
Respondents indicated that 72 percent of dentists treat patients with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities. There is a need for increased attention in dental schools and continuing education on how to care for special-needs patients, according to 82 percent of the dentists who took part in the annual trend survey.