Halitosis is a scientific term for breath that has a foul odor, basically – bad breath. We all have come across someone with halitosis at some time or another, heck, that someone may even have been you.
Halitosis can be detected when the person who has it, exhales. The bad odor could be coming from the person’s oral cavity (mouth) or somewhere else. There are several medical reasons for halitosis.
The source of the halitosis is usually the mouth and can come from oral dryness due to stress or fasting. It can also come from the foods we eat such as: cheese, fish, garlic, meat and onions. Smoking and alcohol consumption can certainly cause halitosis. Anyone who comes near someone who has been chain smoking or has been on a drinking binge can attest to just how bad the breath of a smoker or drinker can be.
There is such a thing as Chronic Halitosis. This is when someone has bad breath over a long period of time and is a more serious condition than just the occasional case of bad breath that can be attributed to something that had been consumed. This chronic condition of halitosis is experienced by 25% of the population to one degree or another.
Halitosis can have a real impact on social life, self-esteem, and even business relationships. It can cause the person who has it to have increased levels of stress, which can lead to other health problems. Chronic halitosis is usually caused by metabolic activity of certain types of oral bacteria.
The average person’s mouth can have over 600 types of bacteria in it. Several of these can produce foul odors when they are studied in a laboratory setting. It is not entirely understood what the connection is between these bacteria found in our mouth and bad breath, but we do know that it has something to do with the proteins that get trapped in our mouth from the food that we eat and how the bacteria in our mouth then processes this protein.
The most common place for this odor causing bacteria to be found in the mouth is our tongue. This is why it is important to have good dental hygiene and to remember to brush our tongue. The back part of our tongue is rarely touched and is relatively dry and poorly cleansed. Bacterial populations can thrive back there off of parts of food particles deposited there as we chew and swallow our food.
Dead epithelial cells and postnasal drip also can collect there on the back of the tongue. The habitat of the tongue is an ideal growing medium for bacteria. It is the breakdown of the residue on the tongue that produces most of the halitosis we smell coming from someone’s mouth.
Other sources of oral halitosis can be gum disease, nasal, your tonsils, or certain systemic diseases such as liver failure, bronchial and other lung infections, renal failure, carcinoma, diabetes mellitus and metabolic dysfunction. All though if you or someone you know has bad breath, you should not immediately assume that it is because of one of these more serious sources. Most bad breath (halitosis) comes from oral sources.