Halitosis or bad breath is the presence of unpleasant odours that can be detected in the breath, air expelled by the mouth (exhaled air). Other terms for defining this condition are: fetor ex ore and fetor oris.

Halitosis is a condition that affects many people. There are clinical studies that have shown an incidence in:


  • Adults aged 18 to 60 years old: 22% (detection of volatile sulphur compounds, responsible for bad breath).
  • Adults aged over 60 years. 43% (admit having bad breath).

There are multiple types of halitosis and they are classified depending on the source or cause of this bad breath:

  • Physiological halitosis
  • Physiological halitosis
    • Pseudohalitosis.
    • Halitophobia

In most cases of bad breath or halitosis, the most common cause originates in the mouth or oral cavity (87%). This type of halitosis is caused by the production and release of volatile compounds, mainly sulphur. Other molecules such as the diamines (for example, cadaverine) are also related to halitosis.

The volatile sulphur compounds are caused by bacteria that grow in the mouth in conditions of oxygen absence (anaerobes). These volatile sulphur compounds come from the metabolism of food bacteria or remain trapped in the mouth. Each individual has his own specific circumstances in which the growth of these bacteria is promoted: reduced saliva flow, reduced carbohydrate concentration, increase in oral pH…

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