Halitosis Oral Bacteria

Along with certain foods and dry mouth, the presence of bacteria in your mouth can cause you to suffer from chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis. If your bad breath is the result of oral bacteria, understanding what you can do to keep these bacteria in check is key to getting rid of your bad breath.

Halitosis Bacteria

The germs that cause halitosis are both good and bad for you. These anaerobic bacteria, or bacteria that live and reproduce in places without oxygen, help you digest food by breaking down proteins found in food, dead cells, blood and mucous.

However, these same helpful bacteria can turn into halitosis when they come into contact with proteins that contain amino acids, such as cysteine and methione. As halitosis bacteria interact with such amino acids, they produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that ultimately make your breath smell like rotten eggs or dirty socks.

Keep in mind that, although halitosis bacteria can live between your teeth or in pockets in your gums, most of the bacterial reproduction that causes halitosis takes place on the back of your tongue.

Bad Breath Statistics

While halitosis is a frustrating condition that can leave you feeling awkward and embarrassed, remember that you aren’t alone. In fact, many people around the world suffer from chronic bad breath. Here are some statistics on halitosis that will give you an idea of how pervasive this medical condition is:

  • About 35 percent to 45 percent of people in the world suffer from halitosis.
  • Each year, Americans spend roughly $10 billion on chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash and other oral hygiene products in an effort to eliminate chronic bad breath.
  • In over 80 percent of halitosis cases, the cause of the bad breath is NOT the result of poor oral hygiene.

Preventing Halitosis

Although chronic bad breath is an irritating, embarrassing problem, you can take some measures to prevent it. The best way to prevent halitosis caused by an excessive presence of oral bacteria is by:

  • brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • brushing your tongue, particularly the back of your tongue (This takes practice to avoid inducing your gag reflex. Brush gently or use a tongue scraper.)
  • flossing your teeth daily
  • seeing your dentist once every six months to have your teeth cleaned
  • using mouthwashes that have a low alcohol content and that contain chlorine dioxide.

If you wear dentures, make sure that your dentures are clean. Soak them overnight in cleaning solutions that will destroy fungi, germs or molds that can cause bad breath. In addition, brush all the areas in your mouth that come into contact with your dentures.

Keep in mind that bad breath can also be a symptom of other diseases. If your bad breath persists, make an appointment with your dentist and/or doctor so that you can determine what is causing your halitosis. Finding out what exactly is causing your halitosis is key to getting the most effective treatment for it.


American Dental Association (n.d.) Bad Breath (Halitosis). Retrieved December 13, 2007, from the ADA Web site: http://www.ada.org/public/topics/bad_breath.asp#ar.

Drysdale, R. (n.d.) Halitosis Bacteria. Retrieved December 13, 2007, from the Ezine Web site: http://ezinearticles.com/?Halitosis-Bacteria