Bad breath is a widespread condition that has been increasingly discussed among professionals and in the mass media in the last few years. In nine of ten cases, halitosis originates intraorally; hence it has become an important topic of study in the education and training of dentists and dental hygienists. However, the de facto knowledge of professionals has never been examined until today.
750 dentists and dental hygienists from Switzerland, Germany, and France were personally interviewed. Their knowledge of halitosis was assessed using a specifically designed questionnaire. In general, considerable differences were ascertained between the German-speaking countries and France, dentists and dental hygienists, and women and men. 27.5% of the French participants believed that the underlying cause of halitosis has a non-oral nature, whereas only 8% of the Swiss and German participants believed so (p<0.001). In contrast to dental hygienists, dentists more often considered gastrointestinal factors as a cause of halitosis (p<0.001). Dental hygienists from Switzerland and Germany more frequently reported the use of tongue scrapers as a therapeutic method (97% and 97.3%) than did dentists of the same countries (87.3% and 89.3%). Among the French participants, only 52% mentioned the use of tongue scrapers to treat halitosis. 2.7% of French dental professionals had participated in a continuing education course about halitosis, which is much lower than the rate of attendance in Switzerland and Germany (46%). Additionally, interdisciplinary discrepancies were observed, as 65.3% of the dental hygienists frequented advanced training courses, which was twice as much as dentists. Therefore, there are clear differences between dentists in France and their colleagues from the German-speaking countries, but also between dental hygienists and dentists. Dental hygienists from Switzerland and Germany appear to be far ahead in terms of halitosis knowledge.

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