Halitosis (Bad Breath)
What bad breath is, what causes it, what are the symptoms, and how to get rid of it.
- What is halitosis
- What causes bad breath?
- What are the symptoms of halitosis?
- How to get rid of bad breath, how to prevent bad breath
What is halitosis?
Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath. It describes the foul and repulsive odors that are detected in the breath of people. Halitosis can have a large impact on your social life, and can keep people at distance (literally) from you. Everyone suffers from some degree of halitosis at one time or another in their life. Halitosis can be temporary, such as in the morning (morning breath), or after eating foods such as garlic, onions, or other spicy foods known to cause bad breath. Halitosis becomes chronic when you suffer from it during most of the day, even after brushing and flossing.
What causes bad breath?
The vast majority (97%) of bad breath is caused by odor producing anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that thrive in oxygen deprived environments). These bacteria are found in your mouth and feed upon dead cells, food particles, and other proteins found in the mouth. During the metabolising of these proteins, these bacteria release gases known as volatile organic compounds (VOC's) that give bad breath its bad smell. If you give anaerobic bacteria a friendly environment (low oxygen, dry mouth, slightly acidic), a constant food source (poor oral hygiene), and time - pretty soon you will have a mouth teeming with anaerobic bacteria that produce bad breath.
To learn more about what causes bad breath and where it originates in your body, read our article on What Causes Bad Breath.
What are the symptoms of halitosis?
It is sometimes difficult to know if you have bad breath. Here are some other symptoms or associated conditions that might mean you have bad breath:
- Bad taste in your mouth: metallic sour or bitter
- Coated teeth
- Stained teeth: yellow or brown stains
- Mouth usually feels dry
- Tongue feels dry, has a white or yellow film on it
- Rhinitis (runny nose) or hay-fever
- Suffer from post nasal drip or chronic allergies
- Gums bleed or look swollen
- Partially erupted wisdom teeth
- Regular toothaches
- Teeth feel loose
- Tonsilloliths (tonsil stones)
If you have one or several of these symptoms you may suffer from chronic halitosis. If you are in doubt, ask a person who you trust and are comfortable with if you have bad breath on a regular basis.
How to smell your own breath
It is often difficult to smell your own breath because people become acclimated to the smell of their own breath. Despite the difficulty of smelling your own breath, there are some tips and strategies that allow you to detect if it smells bad or not. You can read about these tips in our article on How to smell your own breath.
How To Get Rid of Bad Breath
We learned that bad breath is caused by an overgrowth of bad breath producing anaerobic bacteria. In order to get rid of bad breath, one has to remove the factors that lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in the first place. The leading factor that leads to an overgrowth of bacteria is poor oral hygiene. Through proper oral hygiene one is able to remove the food source of the bacteria and make their mouths less hospitable to the bacteria. Consistent proper oral hygiene will reduce the population of anaerobic bacteria until they reach healthy low levels where bad breath is not a problem or detectable. The most important part of proper oral hygiene is the mechanical removal of proteins and other particles that the bacteria feed upon.
Read our informative article on How To Get Rid Of Bad Breath to learn more about how to treat bad breath.