Halitosis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

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It can be just a sign of occasional bad breath or worse, a chronic problem that needs urgent help.

Halitosis is often used as a synonym for bad breath. But there’s actually a difference between these terms. Let’s understand what halitosis is and what causes halitosis and what treatments are there to address this concern and the health problems associated with it.

What is halitosis?

Chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis, is something that good brushing and flossing, or mouthwash rinsing can’t quickly resolve. Unlike “morning breath” or a strong odour that stays after eating foods which are spicy or contain garlic, halitosis remains longer and can be a sign of something more serious about your health.


The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Bad breath usually starts in the mouth, but there are many possible causes (some of which are quite serious) such as:

  • Food particles: Strong foods such as garlic or onions can leave particles behind the mouth and on the tongue, resulting in an unpleasant odour. Luckily, it’s easily treated and not a chronic cause of halitosis.
  • Poor oral hygiene: Food particles can stay in your mouth and cause bad breath odour if you don’t brush and floss every day.
  • Dental problems: Cavities and gum disease can give bad breath bacteria additional hiding places in your mouth that are challenging to reach when brushing your teeth.
  • Smoking and tobacco: Tobacco has its own type of bad breath. Besides making your breath smell, smoking causes staining and loss of taste and irritates gums.
  • Other chronic conditions like respiratory infections or acid reflux: Halitosis is typically associated with oral health issues, but it can also indicate liver or kidney disease, diabetes, gastric reflux, or other conditions.

Don’t wait for a dental emergency to happen before you talk to your dental team. See your dental team regularly or as often as they recommend.

Approximately 48% of Canadians who haven’t seen a dentist in the past year have gum disease.

Again, your dental team will be able to check and treat the problem during regular check-ups. Once the problems are found earlier, they are easier to treat.

Risk Factors

Bad breath is not just about what you eat or drink. Most people with persistent halitosis, or chronic bad breath, have a dental condition that accounts for the problem.

Here are some risk factors that chronic bad breath can cause to your health:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Gingivitis
  • Oral cavity
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety


Bad breath can put you and those around you in an uncomfortable situation. Unless you know how to get rid of it. Here are some ways to prevent bad breath:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once daily
  • Gently clean your tongue before bedtime
  • Prevent hunger breath by eating regularly and avoiding  skipping meals
  • Eat more fibrous foods such as raw carrots or celery to stimulate saliva flow
  • Decrease alcohol, soda and coffee intake
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Rinse and swish with an effective mouthwash

The easiest and most effective treatment for bad breath is regular brushing, flossing, and hydration.

If you are looking for a dentist in Northeast Calgary that treats halitosis, McCall Dental can help. Contact our office today and one of our friendly team members will be glad to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding halitosis and suggest some treatment options.