Halitosis Preventing Bad Breath

When most people leave their homes in the mornings to go to work or do errands, they put some time and effort into their appearances to make sure that they put the right foot forward as they face the world that day. However, persistent bad, foul and generally unpleasant breath (also referred to as halitosis) can seriously affect your image and social interactions.

Halitosis describes a condition in which a person chronically emits a foul odor from his mouth. While the occasional bout of bad breath can affect anyone, halitosis is a far more serious condition that persists even after a person has brushed his teeth or chewed some gum. Unfortunately, between 50 million and 80 million people in the United States suffer from halitosis.

Unlike other medical conditions in which a patient can notice negative health changes in himself, halitosis is not something that a person can usually detect on his own. In most cases, people become aware that they suffer from halitosis when someone else alerts them that they have bad breath. In most cases, an individual’s recognition of the fact that he has halitosis can be just as embarrassing as having the condition persist.

How Halitosis Can Negatively Affect You

While having chronic bad breath may not seem like a serious condition, think about how halitosis can negatively affect any interaction you have during the day. For example, a businessman with halitosis is far less likely to make a face-to-face sale, as bad breath can drive a potential customer away. In fact, whether you are an aspiring professional or simply a social butterfly, chronic bad breath can prevent you from having meaningful work and/or social interactions, as those around you try to keep their distance.

As a result, understanding the causes of halitosis is key to preventing it and helping you reach your maximum potential. While a number of factors can cause a person to suffer from halitosis, 90 percent of halitosis cases result from the presence of gram negative anaerobic bacteria in the oral cavity. Some of the factors that can lead to the presence of this bacteria and therefore to halitosis include:

  • allergies
  • canker sores
  • dry mouth, which can be a side effect of taking certain medications
  • gum (periodontal) disease
  • mouth infections
  • types of mouth cancers.

In some cases, however, halitosis can arise due to the presence of some more serious underlying medical condition, which may include:

  • blood disorders
  • diabetes
  • gallbladder disorders
  • kidney infections
  • lung infections
  • tonsil infections
  • types of cancer.

Practicing Proper Oral Hygiene

Because halitosis primarily arises due to the presence of certain bacteria in the oral cavity, practicing proper oral hygiene can be key to preventing this bacteria from ever taking hold of and reproducing in your mouth. Even if you think that you understand and practice good oral hygiene, take a moment to compare your oral hygiene routine with what dentists recommend:

  • Brush your teeth for at least two minutes in the morning after you awake and in the evening before you go to sleep.
  • Clean your tongue when brushing your teeth. This usually requires that you scrub your tongue with your toothbrush for about a minute.
  • Floss between each and every tooth you have once a day. Keep in mind that dentists don’t recommend flossing more than once a day, as excessive flossing can damage your gums.
  • Use mouthwashes that contain chlorine dioxide, a chemical compound that can kill halitosis-causing bacteria in the mouth.

Practicing proper oral hygiene can help you prevent halitosis.


Greene, Stuart DDS (n.d.). What is Halitosis. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the Halitosis Web site: http://www.qualitydentistry.com/dental/halitosis/summary.html.

Save Your Smile (n.d.). Preventing Bad Breath and Halitosis. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the Save Your Smile Web site: http://www.saveyoursmile.com/fb/fbtips.html.