What are the Signs and Symptoms of Halitosis (Bad Breath)?

Monika Singh   by Monika Singh, MS    Last updated on October 3, 2019,

signs and symptoms of halitosis bad breath

Bad breath causes an unusual, unpleasant and unattractive odor.

Is every bad breath a sign of halitosis?

Every bad breath is not halitosis. Every day morning breath and the bad breath that comes after eating anything spicy or food with a strong odor are not halitosis. These bad breaths occur for a short time only and can be managed through common cleaning and hygiene tips. These are not a matter of health concern. Read about halitosis in detail.

Halitosis is long lasting and it does not go by brushing, flossing or rinsing. It can occur from time to time and the symptoms and frequency may depend on the cause of halitosis.

Signs and Symptoms of halitosis (Bad breath Symptoms)

People generally notice the person affected by halitosis when they smell the bad breath and react by maintaining a distance as the person speaks. But sometimes the person affected may not know that he has bad breath.

The odor-detecting cells in the nose get used to the smell and become unresponsive to the continuous stream of bad odor.

The main symptoms of bad breath are:

Bad smell

The odor of the smell is very unusual and unpleasant. This bad odor depends on the cause of the problem:

  • Rotten egg smell – when breakdown of food by bacteria form sulphur compounds
  • Nail polish smell – due to ketones, when people follow crash dieting
  • Garlic smell – after eating spicy food containing garlic and onions

Bad taste

People with halitosis notice a bad taste in their mouth along with a bad smell. This bad taste does not disappear even after brushing the teeth or using a mouthwash. The taste is usually sour and bitter metallic.

Dry mouth

The reduced flow of saliva can lower the cleansing mechanism of mouth which makes the mouth dry.

White coating on the tongue

The tongue becomes white when the tiny projections on the tongue overgrow and swells. The white coating is because of food, bacteria, fungi and dead cells getting lodged between the projections. This occurs due to poor oral hygiene.

Other than the main symptoms as listed above, there are some more signs of halitosis which are seen rarely. These are given below:

  • A postnasal drip
  • Difficulty in speaking and swallowing
  • Dry eyes
  • Burning sensation in mouth
  • Fever, cough, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes in neck indicates respiratory tract infection which can also be a contributing factor in halitosis

When to see your doctor

If you have bad breath, try to improve your oral hygiene habits. Make certain lifestyle changes, such as brush your teeth and tongue after eating, do dental flossing, and drink plenty of water.

If your bad breath still does not improve after making these changes, you should meet your dentist. He or she will tell you if it is due to a more serious condition. If needed he or she will refer you to a physician to find the cause of the bad breath.

Monika Singh

Monika Singh is an expert in computer sciences and has pursued her Master’s degree (M.Tech-CS) from Banasthali University, Rajasthan. Her areas of interest include data structure, software engineering, software testing, and computer graphics. Monika Singh has published a paper on “Modified AODV in MANET,” International Journal of Computer Science and Management Studies (IJCSMS), ISSN: 2231-5268, Vol-14, Issue-05 May 2014, PP:12-18.

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