Halitosis – What Is It and What Are the Causes?

The term halitosis is used to describe a very common condition; that is Bad Breath! It is when there is a noticeably unpleasant odor that the mouth produces when breathing out that a person may need to get medical help for the condition.

Bad breath can be variable and can be worse or better depending upon the kind of food we eat and the time of day. Some of us awaken to bad breath because of the mouth’s lack of exposure to oxygen during the sleeping hours. This typically disappears later in the day, after eating drinking or brushing.

Halitosis – What Is It and What Are the Causes

Causes of halitosis

Persistent or chronic halitosis could have the following reasons:

1. Tongue bacteria

Bacteria can collect undisturbed on the tongue, particularly the back of the tongue which is the most common reason for bad breath. Certain volatile sulfur compounds and other odor causing amino acids can cause the bad breath when proteins are broken down.

Decaying food debris, dead cells and so on cause the problem. Mouth sprays and mints may mask the smell for a while but only cleaning will remove the problem. Sometimes bad breath is simply a case of poor oral hygiene.

2. Intake

Eating certain foods can cause bad breath. Also less saliva production and not drinking enough water (dry mouth) can cause bad breath. Smoking also is also a known contributor for bad breath.

3. Other mouth problems

Gum disease, tooth decay and so on can also cause bad breath. In addition decaying food stuck between teeth, abscess formation in the mouth and so on can also cause bad breath.

4. Stomach and food pipe

Though indigestion is often cited as a source of bad breath, it is rarely the cause of halitosis. If a person has problems such as acid reflux, GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), hiatal hernia and so on, this can cause the stomach acids to enter the esophagus (food pipe) and cause bad breath.

Some very serious complications can also cause bad mouth odor such as kidney and liver failure; however these conditions would typically have many other symptoms as well.

Why halitosis shouldn’t be ignored

Though bad breath may seem to be an inconsequential problem, it shouldn’t be ignored. This is not only because it could indicate an underlying health issue, but also because bad-breath itself can cause issues relating to self esteem, social isolation, relationship issues and even depression. Also a condition known as delusional halitosis can occur in young men, which should receive medical attention.