What causes halitosis?
Halitosis has a range of causes and can sometimes be an indication of an underlying medical issue, but most of the time it’s linked to oral health and lifestyle habits.
Typically, things like tongue coating, insufficient brushing and throat infections are responsible for halitosis. Eating certain foods such as spices, garlic and onions can also cause bad breath, as can drinking alcohol. Smoking can also contribute towards halitosis, as it reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth, which leads to dry mouth and tongue coating.
Food in the mouth left behind due to insufficient brushing can get lodged between your teeth and start to decompose. When this happens, chemicals are released that produce an unpleasant odour. If food is allowed to build up over time, the strength of the odour becomes stronger.
In some cases there can be an underlying cause of halitosis and these include respiratory infections, post-nasal drip and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
What are the symptoms of halitosis?
The characteristic symptom of halitosis is bad breath. There may also be a white covering on the tongue and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Can halitosis lead to other problems?
It’s understandable to feel worried about halitosis as it can have an impact on your daily life.
Halitosis itself is unlikely to be the cause of any other physical illness or condition, but recurring or long-term halitosis can have an effect on mental health and lead to anxiety and depression.
The most common mental health disorder associated with halitosis is Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), which lowers self-confidence and has profound effects on social and emotional behaviour. Halitosis can make it difficult to feel confident in social situations and can cause people to avoid them altogether, which leads to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
It’s more common for halitosis to be an indicator of underlying oral health problems such as gum disease and xerostomia (dry mouth). These can be diagnosed by a dentist and treatment will help to prevent other problems from developing.
If you’ve got concerns about your dental health it’s a good idea to book an appointment with a dentist, as it could be that improved brushing or specialist treatment for oral health problems could be the solution to your halitosis.