What Is Odynophagia?
Odynophagia (from Old English: “to eat with the mouth”) is the act of eating food or liquid through your nose. It is not just a habit; it’s actually a way of life for many people. Most people have had some experience of this behavior from birth, but there are those who never developed any other kind of chewing ability—or even learned how to chew on solid foods like milk or meat.
The word “od” comes from the Greek root od-, meaning “mouth.” Odontophobia means fear of the mouth. So when someone says they don’t like their own breath, what they really mean is that they’re afraid of something in their mouth. And that’s exactly what most people feel about their noses!
It’s true that eating with your mouth open does make you smell bad, but it doesn’t necessarily cause any problems for your health. There are plenty of other things that can cause bad breath besides eating with your mouth open. For example, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, having an infected tooth or gum cavity, and being overweight all contribute to bad breath.
But if you’ve ever been curious about why some people have bad breath while others do not, here’s a little secret: Odontophobia causes bad breath! Bad breath is caused by a combination of factors.
The first factor is dental hygiene. A build-up of plaque and tartar can cause bad breath, even in people with impeccable personal hygiene habits. It’s impossible to completely avoid this problem, but proper brushing and flossing habits will minimize the risks.
The second factor is diet. Certain foods can cause bad breath, even if you have perfect teeth. Garlic and onions are probably the two most notorious foods for causing bad breath. They contain oils that are released when you chew, which can get on your breath and linger for hours afterwards.
The third factor is the bacteria in your mouth. The longer you have the bacteria in your mouth, the worse the smell. This is why someone who just finishes eating a slice of garlic cheese pizza will have worse breath than someone who just brushed their teeth.
The fourth and final factor is health issues. Some medical conditions can cause bad breath. In such cases, your breath won’t get better until the health condition is resolved. If you’re concerned about your own breath, visit a doctor who can check for any health issues that may be contributing to your bad breath.
Some people have extreme cases of odontophobia, where they feel like everything they eat or put into their mouths will make them smell. In some cases, this is just a habit that they can break through force of will. In other cases, it may be a sign of a more serious condition such as bulimia or an eating disorder. These people should seek help for their phobia as soon as possible, because it can lead to a lot of serious health problems if left untreated for too long.
Odontophobia is a very common phobia. It can be caused by several different things, but it is treatable in most cases. The best way to treat the fear is to confront it, so try exposing yourself to photographs of people smiling and eating food, or visit a dentist office to see firsthand that dentists are not threatening.
If this doesn’t work, or if the fear is too great, seeing a psychologist and undergoing desensitization therapy is recommended. There are also medications such as Xanax which can help ease the symptoms of this phobia.
Sources & references used in this article:
A rare cause of odynophagia and dysphagia: oesophageal lichen planus by N Antaki, D Abboud – Arab Journal of Gastroenterology, 2013 – Elsevier
Dysphagia, Odynophagia, Hoarseness in Elderly Man by JM Carter, D Cai, BA Moore – enttoday.org
Haemoptysis, dysphagia, and odynophagia by T King, G Warner – BMJ, 2008 – bmj.com