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What Is Halitosis? 4 Effective Prevention & Maintenance Tips

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Written by

Q.F. Nayibe Cubillos Morales


Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Gustavo Assatourians D.D.S

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What is halitosis? Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is a problem that affects many people around the world. This uncomfortable and often embarrassing condition arises from a variety of causes, from poor oral hygiene to underlying health issues.

In this article, we will explore halitosis in-depth, the types, the causes that trigger it, and, most importantly, how to treat and prevent it effectively. We will discover the secrets of maintaining a fresh breath and optimal dental health, allowing sufferers to regain their confidence and oral well-being. Join us on this journey toward eliminating bad breath and achieving a healthy, worry-free smile.

What is Halitosis?

Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is an uncomfortable problem that affects many people. It is characterized by an unpleasant odor that comes from the mouth, and it can have a significant impact on the social and emotional life of those who suffer from it. Halitosis can be temporary or chronic, and its treatment varies depending on the cause.

what is halitosis

Signs and Symptoms of Halitosis

The signs and symptoms of halitosis can vary, but in most cases, the main symptom is an unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth. In addition to bad breath, people who suffer from halitosis may experience a dry mouth, a bad taste in the mouth, and a persistent feeling of a dirty mouth.

Halitosis is a symptom that can be indicative of underlying oral health issues and may even be associated with conditions such as soft palate cancer and black tongue. It’s important to address persistent bad breath promptly through proper oral care and regular dental check-ups to minimize the risk of these more serious health complications.

Causes of Halitosis

To effectively treat halitosis, it is crucial to understand its underlying causes. There are several types of bad breath, each with its own triggers. Some of the most common causes include:

• Poor Oral Hygiene: A lack of proper oral hygiene, such as brushing your teeth and tongue regularly, can cause bacteria to build up in the mouth and cause bad breath.

Gum Disease: Gum diseases, such as gingivitis or periodontitis, can cause bad breath due to inflammation and bacteria present in the mouth.

• Language Problems: A dirty or bacteria-covered tongue can be a major source of bad breath. Tongue hygiene is thus essential to prevent it.

• General Health Problems: Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, liver disease, or gastrointestinal problems can contribute to halitosis.

• Consumption of Aromatic Foods: Eating foods with strong odors, such as garlic or onion, can temporarily cause bad breath.

• Smoking and Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Tobacco and alcohol can contribute to dry mouth, which in turn can cause bad breath.

drinking and smoking

Treatment for Halitosis

Treatment for halitosis varies depending on its underlying cause. Here are some strategies to address the problem:

Oral hygiene:  Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing to remove food debris between your teeth will help reduce bad breath.

Mouthwash:  Using an antibacterial mouthwash can prove effective in temporarily eliminating bad breath. However, it is not a substitute for good oral hygiene.

Visits to the Dentist:  It is essential to schedule regular visits to the dentist for professional teeth cleanings and to address any dental or gum issues.

Treatment for Chronic Halitosis:  If halitosis is chronic and does not improve with proper oral hygiene, it is important to consult a specialist. Specific treatment may be necessary, such as the use of antibiotics to combat the bacteria that cause bad breath.

If halitosis becomes chronic, it is considered one of the miscellaneous dental diseases. Chronic bad breath can be indicative of underlying oral health issues and may require specialized treatment from a dentist or oral healthcare professional. 

girl using mouthwash

Prevention and Maintenance

Prevention is essential to avoid halitosis. Some preventive measures include:

1. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene:  Brush your teeth, floss, and clean your tongue regularly. To learn more about perfecting your oral hygiene routine, you can check out this article

2. Drink Enough Water:  Proper hydration helps prevent dry mouth, which can contribute to bad breath.

3. Avoid Excessive Consumption of Alcohol and Tobacco:  These habits can contribute to halitosis and other oral health problems.

4. Control Underlying Diseases:  If you have a medical illness that contributes to halitosis, it is important to follow the recommendations of a health professional.



In conclusion, halitosis is a common problem that can have a significant impact on the daily lives of those who suffer from it. With good oral hygiene, regular visits to the dentist, and proper treatment of the underlying causes, it is possible to effectively eliminate bad breath and improve overall dental health. Halitosis is not a permanent condition; and with proper care, it is possible to maintain fresh breath and a healthy smile.

Frequently Asked Questions

When you have bad breath, you are releasing microorganisms and the buildup associated with them. If you notice that your breath has a sulfurous tinge, it will be a good idea to consult with a medical professional about your digestive system. The smell similar to that of a spoiled egg originates from the decomposition of microbes that reside in your digestive tract.

Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth, so the most effective strategy to combat bad breath may be to limit your consumption of sugary foods and liquids. Acid reflux can be particularly problematic, as it damages oral soft tissues and erodes the enamel ofn your teeth. While less severe cases can be managed with the use of antacids, more extreme situations could result in persistent bad breath.

You should brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes at least twice a day (morning and evening). Some people find it necessary to brush their teeth after every meal to prevent cavities and bad breath. To prevent bacteria from growing on food debris stuck to your teeth, floss at least once a day.

Mouthwashes containing antibacterial agents cetylpyridinium chloride (Cepacol), chlorhexidine (Peridex), or hydrogen peroxide are effective. Closys, a hygiene system based on toothpaste, mouthwash, and oral spray is another option. These products eliminate germs that cause bad breath and freshen the breath.



1. Bad breath causes, treatments, and prevention. (s/f). WebMD. (Feb 14, 2023),

2. Halitosis (bad breath): What it is, causes & treatment. (s/f). Cleveland Clinic. (Jul 18, 2022)

3. Bad breath. (Mar 10, 2018). Mayo Clinic.

4. Newman, T. (Jan 10, 2018). Bad breath (halitosis): Causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

5. Bad breath (halitosis). (Dec 6, 2020). Healthline.

6. 5 causes of bad breath. (Sep 13, 2021). South Gables Dental.

7. Mark, A. M. (2021). Controlling bad breath. Journal of the American Dental Association (1939), 152(7), 582.

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