Halitosis: What You Need to Know

Man with halitosis


• Halitosis is a medical term used to describe bad breath and can occur when air exiting the mouth has an unpleasant smell.

• Risk factors of halitosis include dietary habits, oral hygiene, and underlying medical conditions such as periodontal disease or sinus infections.

• To manage halitosis, it is essential to clean the mouth regularly by brushing and flossing, using an antibacterial mouthwash, and making dietary changes.

• Medical treatment may be necessary if an underlying condition is causing the bad breath.

Halitosis is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. It can have a profound effect on your life, causing social and emotional distress as well as physical discomfort. Fortunately, you can take steps to manage halitosis and even prevent it from occurring in the first place. Here’s what you need to know about this condition.

What is Halitosis?

Halitosis is a medical term used to describe bad breath. It occurs when the air exiting the mouth has an unpleasant smell. In some cases, breathing through your nose can also cause bad breath as nasal secretions mix with oral bacteria and release odors into the air. While everyone experiences occasional bouts of bad breath, halitosis can be chronic and should not be ignored. Bad breath can lead to something more significant and devastating in the future.

Risk Factors

Anyone can have bad breath, but others are more vulnerable to this disorder than others. Here are some of the risk factors of halitosis.

Problematic junk food

Dietary Habits

Did you know that your dietary choices can affect your breath? Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contain volatile compounds which are absorbed into your bloodstream and metabolized by your liver before being expelled through your lungs in the form of odorous molecules. That’s why people who eat many of these foods often have stronger-smelling breath than those who don’t. Aside from avoiding these foods, you can also try brushing and flossing after eating to minimize any lingering odors.

Oral Hygiene

It should come as no surprise that proper oral hygiene is essential for maintaining fresh breath. Plaque buildup on teeth provides an ideal environment for bacteria to flourish and contribute to bad breath. Therefore, visitors should brush their teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes to remove plaque and other food particles from their teeth surfaces. It is also essential to floss regularly to reduce food debris and bacteria buildup between the teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions can cause bad breath, such as periodontal (gum) disease or sinus infections. If your bad breath persists despite good oral hygiene habits, it may be worth consulting your doctor or dentist to see if there is an underlying medical issue causing it.

Getting some orthodontic appliances to help against these diseases might be good. A robust veneer can prevent gum diseases and even tooth decay. Additionally, certain medications, including some antidepressants and antihistamines, can also cause dry mouth, leading to bad breath due to saliva not being able to wash away bacteria in the mouth properly.


Smoking is another common cause of bad breath. Tobacco smoke contains chemicals and particles that settle in the mouth and throat, causing them to emit unpleasant odors. Moreover, smoking can also irritate the gum tissues leading to an increase in bacteria buildup, further contributing to bad breath.

Woman with yellow teeth smoking


Halitosis is primarily a lifestyle disorder, but treatments can fix it. Here are some of them.


One of the best ways to get rid of bad breath is to clean your mouth regularly. This includes brushing and flossing twice daily, scraping your tongue with a scraper or brush, and rinsing your mouth. Your dentist can also clean your teeth thoroughly, and they should do it at least once a year.


Using an antibacterial mouthwash can help kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. It should be used in addition to regular brushing and flossing as it cannot replace them.

Dietary Changes

Eating foods rich in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, can help reduce bad breath by providing food for healthy bacteria in the mouth. Additionally, avoiding processed foods high in sugar can help reduce bad breath since these foods are broken down into odorous molecules during digestion.

Medical Treatment

If you are dealing with an underlying medical condition, such as gum disease or sinus infections, then your doctor can treat the cause of bad breath. In some cases, medications may be prescribed to help reduce or eliminate odors associated with these conditions.

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