Definition and aetiology of halitosis

Tongue coating
  • Halitosis (bad breath or oral malodour) is an unpleasant or offensive odour emanating from breath.
  • In 9 out of 10 cases bad breath originates in the mouth itself (Rosenberg 2002).
  • The most likely cause is the accumulation of food debris with subsequent metabolism of food debris by bacterial plaque on teeth and tongue (Porter & Scully 2006).
  • Extra-oral causes may include respiratory diseases (such as sinusitis and tonsillitis), systemic diseases (such as diabetes mellitus, hepatic and renal failure), malignancy and use of pharmacologic agents.