What is halitosis?

Dossier : A temporary period of bad breath or halitosis?

causes of bad breath

Health professionals use the term halitosis when referring to bad breath. Few people affected by it dare to talk about it, therefore, the help of a health professional is not often sought on the subject. Your dentist is the best-placed specialist to identify the origin of the problem and offer relevant advice. You may not be able to get an appointment with your dentist straight away, so introduce LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE MOUTHWASH into your daily routine. This will provide lasting protection against the bacteria that cause bad breath when used twice daily.


Dental problems are the cause of the majority of cases of bad breath.  The bad odours are caused by the presence of bacteria in the mouth and on the surface of the tongue. These bacteria break down food, producing volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs). The unpleasant smelling VSCs are the cause of bad breath. 

Other factors contribute to bad breath:

  • poor oral hygiene
  • high levels of consumption of tobacco, coffee, alcohol or foods like garlic, onion, anchovies, and foods high in fat content
  • fasting and low-calorie diets can also be a cause as they reduce the flow of saliva, which is essential for removing decomposing food elements
  • oral diseases, inflammation of the gums, gum desease, periodontitis, abscesses, tooth decay, oral infections like thrush;
  • a dry mouth


As well as oral hygiene causes, other diseases may be the cause of halitosis. These can come from the following groupings:

  • throat infections, rhinitis, sinusitis
  • gastro-intestinal
  • pulmonary
  • renal
  • respiratory
  • metabolic
  • hormonal

Some medications can also cause bad breath. See your doctor if in doubt.


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