Halitosis - bad breath

The nauseant smeel he gave off his mouth saturated all the room with such a bad smell that it persisted even when he had gone away...
by La Direzione di Dentisti Italia 29-09-2008

...This is the beginning of an horror book, but don't be so tragic if you suffer from halitosis, well known as bad breath. 50% of the world population suffers from this disorder in a more or less serious way.


What is halitosis?


Breath, constituted by the air we breath out, is composed by water vapour, some gases and miscroscopical waste. Breath is odourless if you are healthy and you do not neglet oral higiene. Sometimes it changes and it takes on a particular smell which allows us to understand its causes. Let's think about how many mums understand if their children suffer from acetone thanks to the smell of their breath or, how we understand immediately that our interlocutor ate recentely garlic or onion thanks to the smell (it is only a manner of speaking) of his breath while he is friendly talking with us at close range.



How many and which kind of halitosis exist:


Basically there are 2 kinds of halitosis­:

  • transitory halitosis (90% of the possibilities): it reveals itself just sometimes during the day. It is basically a phisiological phenomenon and it corresponds to oral hygiene. Through it, it is possible to sweep aside all the anaerobic bacteria present in the oral cavity which are considered to be the main cause of it.
  • persistent pathological halitosis (10% of the possibilities): it is caused by different pathologies so it does not disappear even after a scrupolous oral hygiene because it is caused by different pathologies of the oral cavity. Sometimes it is caused by serious systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, acute hepatopathy and chronic kidney failure. (In these cases, halitosis is neither the first nor the most serious sympthom that the patient feels).

Which are the main causes of halitosis?


90% of the possibilities is caused by:

  • a wrong oral hygiene;

The remaining 10% is caused by:

  • tooth decay, bad done or damaged denthal prothesis and reconstructions, gingivitis and pyorrhoea;
  • the assumption of food and drinks such as garlic, onion, particular spices, peppers, smoke meat, some kind of fish, some kind of cheese, coffee, beer, wine, alcoholics;
  • nicotinism (cigarettes, pipe, cigars, smoking tobacco or chewing tobacco);
  • antihistaminics, antidepressants, diuretics and tranquillizers;
  • systemic diseases (diabetes mellitus, acute hepatopaties, chronic kidney failure);
  • gastric problems, sinusitis and tonsillitis;
  • abstinence from food which provokes a minor production of saliva, a chief element in oral cleansing.

How can we treat halitosis?


If we read carefully the previous paragraph, it is easy to understand that in more than 90% of the possibilities bad breath can be treat just with dental cures. Thus, who suffers from bad breath at first must be examined by a good dentist. When the doctor understands the main cause of the problem, will be able to show the patient how to take care of his oral hygiene and, at the same time, to treat, with precise cures, the possible dental or gingival pathologies he may have even though he is not aware of them.



Remedies for halitosis:

  • at first, a scrupolous oral hygiene:

- use a dental floss at least once in a day

- brush your teeth after every meal (use a toothbrush with artificial bristles and toothpaste containing "fluorine");

- brush deeply the back of your tongue (you can use the same toothbrush you use to brush your teeth, or better you can use a specific tongue cleaner which can effectively clean the back of your tongue: that part which goes towards the throat);

- use regularly a good mouthwash, containing antiseptic substances;limit the assumption of food and drinks which can provoke bad breath (read the paragraph "Which are the main causes of halitosis?")

  • limit the use of tobacco;
  • limit the use of alcohol which provokes the dehydration of the oral cavity, encouraging the development of the bacteria which cause halitosis;
  • drink a lot of water during the day, fostering in this way the production of saliva, the main element in the oral cavity cleansing.

Are there means, methods or instruments which can establish halitosis?



  • a certain mean should be that all the people who see each other should tell what they really think about other people's breath. Let's think about a grl who says "you have a really bad breath" to a boy who is courting her. Or about your chief who says "you have a really bad breath". This never happens, so where are all these stinking people? Thus, we have to exclude this mean even though it should be a good mean to establish halitosis;
  • here there are other means which can be easily experimented: 

- rub your tongue on a well cleaned and oudorless wrist, wait for some seconds and smell it;

- let your tongue out as much as you can and rub its surface twice or three times on a sterile gauze. Wait for 40 seconds and smell the gauze.

  • use a dental floss (a white, not flavoured and not wax dental floss) among higher and lower back molars. Wait for 40 seconds, if the dental floss is brown, smell it;

On the contrary, to blow on the palm does not provide with any information;

  • the so called organoleptic proof is an empiric method. Dentists used it in the past, then it fell completely into disuse. The dentist smelt the patient's breath from a few inches, then from a meter and at least from three meters. According to the distance from which bad breath was smelt, halitosis was classified in: minor, moderate or serious halitosis. To try it out correctly, the results must be compared with those of another person, who represented the second test and who should be, according to the cirumstances, a patient's attendant or a medical practice partner;
  • recently a diagnostic tool has been thrown upon the market. It can detect with certainty halitosis and determin exactly which part of our body gives origin to the problem, the mouth, the nose or lungs. This tool is called HALIMETER.


In a near future, all the dentists should have this important tool, because the problem of bad breath is increasing. What do you think if yuour dentist will examin you with an organoleptic proof?

TAG: Halitosis - Bad Breath