Halitosis is the general term used to describe any disagreeable odor in exhaled air, regardless of whether the odorous substances originate from oral or non-oral sources. Previous research has strongly associated tobacco smoking in the development of halitosis, as it increases the synthesis of toxic volatile sulfur compounds in diseased periodontal pockets. In this review, we summarize the etiopathology and epidemiology of halitosis as well as the current evidence on the impact of smoking by means of a meta-analysis.
PubMed and Embase were searched to identify publications that reported halitosis in smokers and nonsmokers. Meta-analyses were performed if a sufficient number (n ≥ 3) of articles were available that evaluated the same outcome.
The meta-analyses showed that there was an increased risk of halitosis in current smokers versus nonsmokers (odds ratios). These results were consistent both in fixed and random effects models. Even though the interstudy heterogeneity was high (I2 = 91%), sensitivity analysis by limiting the number of studies yielded similar results, with no-to-moderate heterogeneity (I2 = 0–65%). The analysis comparing ever smokers with never smokers showed no significant difference in the risk of halitosis in ever smokers. The same effect was observed when upon stratifying the analyses on the basis of ascertainment of halitosis (self-reported or measured by a Halimeter).
Halitosis is a common condition which can affect the quality of life of those affected. The results from this literature review and meta-analysis show that current smokers are more likely to suffer from halitosis, even if they are less likely to report it.