2 June 2015

Smelling right could the key to landing a potential partner, results of a new nationwide survey claim.

In a new poll looking to expose the UK’s biggest turn-offs when looking for a new partner, bad breath came out on top of the attraction faux pas, followed by body odour1.

The findings were similar for men and women alike in the survey of more than 2,000 Brits.

Next on the list came stained teeth (seven per cent), facial hair (six per cent) and political views (five per cent) completing our top five turn-offs.

It isn’t the first time pristine oral health has been associated with how successful you could be with the opposite sex. Previous research has shown more than two thirds of us chose not to date someone because of their bad teeth2, with missing teeth, stained teeth and cracked teeth also proving dating no-nos3.

The research, carried out by the British Dental Health Foundation, coincides with National Smile Month, the nation’s annual reminder of good oral health.

Smelling right could the key to landing a potential partnerThe campaign, which takes place from 18 May to 18 June, is supported by platinum sponsors Invisalign, Wrigley and Oral-B, aims to promote good oral health. Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE believes bad breath and stained teeth can be eradicated by adopting some very simple habits.

Dr Carter says: “As a nation we probably spend more time and money looking after our hair and the clothes we wear, rather than caring for our teeth. The survey is a great reminder that we should be giving greater attention to our teeth – not just because it improves oral health – but because it gives us the confidence to smile, which makes a major difference to our relationships, careers and overall image.

“During National Smile Month, we hope everyone will consider what they can do to improve their oral health. Bad breath and stained teeth are both preventable and stem from a lack of oral hygiene.

“Bits of food that get caught between the teeth and on the tongue will rot and can sometimes cause an unpleasant smell. This can be sorted by cleaning in between teeth with interdental brushes.

“Although some medical problems may be the cause of bad breath including sinusitis, bronchitis, diabetes, liver or kidney problems, and infections of the nose, throat and lungs, bad breath is most often caused by a lack of good oral hygiene.

“The bacteria on our teeth that will build up if we don't brush twice a day will release gases, causing bad breath, so correct and regular brushing is very important to keep our breath smelling fresh. Brushing our tongue, or using a tongue scraper, will also help to reduce bad breath.”

Professional Marketing Relations Senior Manager at Philips Oral Healthcare, Mhari Coxon explained: “If you are a smoker, tobacco use also causes bad breath as well as staining your teeth. National Smile Month is an excellent opportunity to kick the habit. There are toothpastes available if you wish to remove more stains, but there is no substitute for giving up. See it as a 30-day challenge. Donate the money saved to charity or store the pennies in a jar. You will be surprised how much you save.

“Smoking also remains the leading cause of mouth cancer. On average, smokers lose about 16 years of their life. Use the campaign as a springboard for stubbing out smoking and paying a visit to the dentist – it could save your life.”


1. British Dental Health Foundation (2015) National Smile Month Survey: ‘What is most likely to put you off a potential partner?’, UK.

What is most likely to put you off a potential date?
Number of people  Percentage (%)
Facial hair  116 5.79
Lack of fashion sense 45 2.24
Body Odour 680 33.92
Bad Breath 831 41.45
Stained teeth 145 7.23
Accent  25 1.25
Political views  99 4.94
Other 64 3.19

2. Market Watch (2012) 'Bad teeth ranked...'

3. British Dental Health Foundation (2012) 'Which of the following oral health problems do you consider least desirable to the way you look', UK.

Filling  Cracked Teeth Stained Teeth Brace Missing Teeth Uneven Teeth Receeding Gums
Total  1006 1006 1006 1006 1006 1006 1006
1 2% 10% 18% 6% 57% 3% 5%
2 3% 31% 27% 6% 16% 9% 9%
3 4% 25% 26% 7% 11% 14% 13%
4 7% 16% 15% 11% 7% 26% 18%
5 12% 13% 8% 14% 5% 25% 23%
6 26% 6% 4% 26% 2% 16% 20%
7 46% 1% 1% 31% 2% 7% 12%
Ranking 7 3 2 6 1 4 5