Halitosis – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Halitosis – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Nothing is quite as embarrassing as finding out that you have bad breath – but there is nothing to be ashamed about; so let’s go over Halitosis symptoms, causes and treatment. 

Sometimes, bad breath can result from poor oral hygiene, but it can also occur due to health conditions. These conditions include: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Tonsilitis or general sore throat
  • IBS and gut conditions

One first needs to understand where the halitosis originates before treating the symptoms. 


What is Halitosis?

Halitosis is the medical term for chronic bad breath. It is usually a strong odour from the mouth that is noticeable to others but not to the sufferer. As previously mentioned, it can be a symptom of several conditions. 

Still, many cases are caused by bad dental hygiene and various types of erosion in the mouth. 

We all have bad breath once in a while, but the bad breath that doesn’t pass is called chronic halitosis. 

Without proper oral care and hygiene — like brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing ritually, as well as routine professional dental cleaning — harmful bacteria can invade your mouth, multiply out of control, and cause halitosis, cavities, and gum disease.


Halitosis Causes

Halitosis has many causes – this can be divided into two categories: illness and dental hygiene issues.

Notoriously smelly foods like onions, garlic and certain pungent spices can cause bad breath even after digestion. 

They enter your bloodstream, explains Mayo Clinic, and affect your breath.

Your tongue traps bacteria that produce odours. For denture wearers, if you don’t clean your dentures regularly or they don’t fit properly, they can harbour odour-causing bacteria and food particles.


  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD and other digestive issues like IBS): This and other digestive disorders can cause bad breath. The stomach acid leaks back up the oesophagus and erodes the teeth, causing a foul odour. The odour can also come from the stomach, especially if you have indigestion. When your liver and kidneys work properly, they filter toxins out of your body. These toxic substances aren’t being cleared out in people with liver or kidney disease. This can result in halitosis.


  • Cancers: Symptoms of head and neck cancers like oral or oropharyngeal cancer (cancer between your nose and mouth) can cause halitosis due to sores that don’t heal. Other symptoms of these cancers are inexplicable weight loss, mouth pain, difficulty swallowing, and a lump in your neck. Infections in the head, mouth, and lungs can also cause bad breath. The infected sputum and liquid that one coughs up can have an odour. 


  • Dry mouth: If you don’t make enough saliva to clean the mouth, it increases your risk for gum disease and halitosis. A condition called dry mouth or xerostomia decreases the production of saliva. Dry mouth also naturally occurs during sleep, leading to “morning breath,” especially when you sleep with your mouth open. Dry mouth can be caused by smoking and medications. Additionally, calcium deposits called tonsil stones or tonsilloliths also add to dry mouth and can cause halitosis on their own. Sjögren’s syndrome can lead to muscle pain, dry eyes, skin, and mouth.


  • Gum disease: Plaque can cause gum diseases like gingivitis. According to Cleveland Clinic, “untreated gingivitis leads to periodontitis, damage to the gum tissue, and tooth and bone loss around your teeth. Bad breath is also due to surgical wounds and tooth decay or mouth sores after oral surgery. People with diabetes have an increased risk of gum disease — gum disease can make it harder to control diabetes because it can increase blood sugar.


Halitosis Symptoms

Foul mouth odours can have many underlying causes. It’s difficult to assess where a smell is coming from without having a full-on medical exam by a professional. 

Having a Dental Insurance provider like Affinity Dental can get you access to affordable dental care and assessment. Contact us today for a quote on 0861 55 55 22.


Halitosis Treatment

If you suffer from bad breath, you should review your oral hygiene habits. Be honest with yourself about whether you’re doing the best you can for your oral health. 

Are you brushing every day? Do you brush for long enough, or are you rushing through it?

Are you focusing on your tongue, and do you floss daily to remove any rogue food particles that may have gotten stuck? 

Use fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth once a day.

Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, produce enough saliva, and rinse the mouth of excess acids. 

You also need to eat well and cut added sugar out of your diet as much as possible. 

Chewing sugarless gum and reducing caffeine can help your saliva flow and boost fresher breath.

With proper cleaning and exam, your dentist can help rule out any oral health problems and advise you on the next steps, including what types of dental products to use that are best suited for your specific case.

A dentist can create a treatment plan to treat cavities or gum disease or refer you to a medical provider to follow up on any more serious underlying causes.


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