Knowing About Halitosis

Knowing About Halitosis

Having halitosis can have a major impact on a person. Because of bad breath, other people may back away or turn their heads. This can cause a loss of confidence and self-esteem. Halitosis is not infectious. About 2.4% of the adult population suffers from bad breath.

Halitosis is mostly caused by sulfur-producing bacteria that normally live on the surface of the tongue and in the throat. Sometimes, these bacteria start to break down proteins at a very high rate and odorous volatile sulfur compounds (VSC) are released from the back of the tongue and throat.


Apart from the sulfur-producing bacteria that colonize the back of the tongue, the other major causes of halitosis are:

  • Dry mouth – caused by medicines, alcohol, stress, or a medical condition
  • Smoking – which starves the mouth of oxygen.
  • Dental factors – such as periodontitis (infection around the teeth) or poor oral hygiene

Less common causes of halitosis include:

  • Kidney failure, various carcinomas, metabolic dysfunctions, and biochemical disorders, together account for only a very small percentage of halitosis suffers
  • Foods – such as onions, garlic or cauliflower, induce certain odors. However, these effects are only short-lived.
  • Post-nasal discharge – for example, due to chronic sinusitis
  • Acid and bile reflux from the stomach


The features of halitosis can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Post-nasal drip, or mucous
  • Constant sour, bitter metallic taste.
  • Build up around teeth
  • Morning bad breath and a burning tongue
  • Thick saliva and a constant need to clear your throat
  • A white coating on the tongue especially at the back of the tongue


The treatment will depend on what is causing the problem. Avoiding dehydration and good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, are important. Some mouthwashes, lozenges, and toothpaste can assist in fighting halitosis.

A course of an antibiotic, effective against anaerobic bacteria (such as metronidazole, to reduce the overgrowth of sulfur-producing bacteria), may also help. Speak to your dentist, doctor, or chemist to identify the cause of your halitosis and to find the most effective treatment for you.

Knowing About Halitosis.