Halitosis is a persistent, unpleasant odour to the breath. It's a common condition that most often occurs in adults, though children can also be affected.
Causes and triggers
Most cases of bad breath are caused by a condition of the mouth. Here are the most common causes:
- Tobacco use
- Certain foods (e.g., onions, garlic, coffee, alcohol)
- Bacteria on the tongue
- Dental problems (e.g., cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis, abscesses)
- Poor oral hygiene
- Lack of saliva
In rare cases, bad breath can be caused by disorders outside the mouth, such as a sinus or lung infection, a foreign object in the nose, or cancer of the mouth or nose. Despite what people often think, bad breath rarely stems from the stomach or digestive system.
Pseudo-halitosis is when a person is convinced that their breath smells bad when it actually does not.
The causes of bad breath are generally easy to treat. Once the cause has been identified, a health care professional will usually be able to treat it.
Most cases of bad breath can also be resolved with a few simple measures:
- Brushing your teeth and tongue daily
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing your coffee and alcohol consumption
- Receiving regular and proper dental care
When should I see a health care professional?
Consult a health care professional if you have bad breath and any of the following symptoms:
- Pus-filled sputum or nasal discharge
- Abnormal spots in your mouth
If you suffer from bad breath but do not have any of the symptoms above, a health care professional will be able to answer any questions you may have.