Halitosis Halitophobia

Halitophobia, or fear of having bad breath, can be just as bad as halitosis, a condition marked by chronic foul or bad breath. Those with halitophobia constantly worry about their breath, even if it is not offensive or foul in any way. Halitophobia is sometimes referred to as delusion halitosis.


Halitosis is a somewhat common problem in the United States. Dentists and specialists estimate that the condition is the third most common reason why people seek dental care. Halitosis is also known as:

  • bad breath
  • breath malodor
  • breath odor
  • fetor ex ore
  • fetor oris
  • foul breath.

Most cases of halitosis are caused by dryness in the mouth or an outside substance, such as a specific food, smoking or alcohol consumption. Approximately 25 percent of people in the United States suffer from halitosis, though the degree of the condition varies.

Some dentists and specialists say that up to 25 percent of people that come to see them regarding halitosis are really suffering from halitophobia. As not all people with halitophobia will seek help, there are not concrete numbers on how many people in the United States suffer from the condition.

Halitophobia, like most mental conditions, can vary in severity. Some halitophobics will simply brush their teeth more often than normal people, constantly chew gum or use mints and other breath-fresheners and check their breath often.

Chronic Halitosis and Chronic Halitophobia

However, some halitophobia can be more severe. Those with chronic halitophobia may become depressed due to their condition and may even isolate themselves from others to avoid the embarrassment of their supposed bad breath.

Some of the most severe halitophobia stories involve those who choose to remove their teeth to get rid of their supposed halitosis and those who actually end up committing suicide because they become so depressed from halitophobia.

Halitophobia Causes

While halitophobia is thought to be relatively rare, it is still a big problem for some people. Causes of halitophobia can vary from person to person, and researchers are unsure whether or not there is one specific cause of the condition. Most doctors and specialists believe that halitophobia can stem from one or more of the following conditions:

  • delusion
  • hypochondria
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • olfactory reference syndrome.

Depending on the underlying cause for halitophobia, treatment options to address the condition may vary.

Halitophobia Treatment

Halitophobia treatment can involve a combination of:

  • medication for any underlying mental condition
  • oral care treatments such as:
    • chewing gum (medicated or regular)
    • flossing
    • staying hydrated and eating healthy foods that don’t cause bad breath
    • using mouth washes
    • using special toothpastes
    • using tongue scrapers.
  • therapy or psychotherapy.
  • Whether or not these are necessary, they may put the sufferers mind more at ease.

    If you or someone you know suffers from halitophobia, address the issue to ensure that it doesn’t become a life-altering or life-ending condition. Even if it starts out as a mild problem, halitophobia can turn into a serious obsession.


    Bad Breath Research (n.d.). Imaginary Bad Breath (Halitophobia). Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the Bad Breath Research Web site: http://www.tau.ac.il/~melros/booksvideos/excerpts/halitophobia.html.

    Health Revelations (2007). Do you suffer from halitophobia? Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the Health Revelations Web site: http://www.healthrevelations.com/housecalls/hc200709/hc200700921b.html.