AIM: This study investigates the occurrence of oral malodour in
an adult dental clinic population in Pretoria, South Africa, and the
clinical parameters associated with the condition.
METHODS: Data collected from new patients (n=896), examined
by oral hygiene students under supervision of instructors,
between January - October 2004, were retrospectively analysed.
Subjects self-reported their medical history and smoking status.
Caries experience, plaque index, pocket depths, bleeding on
probing (BOP), tongue coating status, and oral hygiene practises
were recorded. Malodour was diagnosed using the halimeter
(≥120ppb) and an organoleptic measurement (0-5 point scale)
of ≥3. Data analysis included chi-square, t-tests and logistical
RESULTS: 15.1% presented with organoleptically-determined malodour
and 20.9% presented with malodour detected by the use
of the halimeter. Irrespective of the diagnostic tool used, tongue
coating, increased plaque levels and BOP were associated with
an increased likelihood for oral malodour, while regular flossing
reduced the likelihood of presenting with the condition.
Periodontitis was associated with oral malodour when applying
organoleptic ratings, but not with the halimeter.
CONCLUSIONS: Oral malodour prevalence corresponds with values
reported in developed countries. Interdental flossing was
the most effective self-care practise associated with a reduced
likelihood of presenting with malodour. Halimeter performance
should be further investigated in relation to varying degrees of
severity of periodontal disease.