Halitosis is another word for bad breath, and it can have a serious impact on a person’s life. The diagnosis may become apparent when a cruel remark is made by an insensitive person, or it may become obvious when people always back away during close conversations. Halitosis is a very obnoxious odor that is accompanies every breath that a person exhales.
Where and when did the word halitosis originate? The word is a combination of a Latin word “halitus” which means breath, and a Greek suffix “osis” which describes a medical condition. Although the word dates from the 1870s, Listerine is commonly credited with creating the word during a marketing campaign in the 1920s.
The most common source of halitosis in found in the mouth and is usually due to bacteria that is found on the tongue. Cleaning the tongue can prevent these microorganisms from multiplying and yielding a foul odor. Without cleaning the tongue first, the use of mouth-washes, mints, and gum are useless in the long run, because they only serve as a temporary fix to mask the problem. When cleaning the tongue, attention must be paid to the back portion since this is an ideal place for bacteria to thrive.
Other sources that can cause halitosis may originate from eating certain types of food, poor dental care, nasal drips, certain types of stomach, tonsil, and esophagus maladies. When all of these problems have been ruled out, a check-up by a doctor may be in order, because there are a variety of systemic diseases that can cause bad breath.
Bad breath can be temporary such as when a person eats garlic or some type of food that causes bad breath, infections present in the mouth, and taking certain medications. Another type of halitosis is when it can be controlled with constant care such as maintaining good dental care, giving up tobacco, and cleaning the tongue on a regular basis. However, some people suffer from chronic halitosis. This is usually caused by some type of systemic health problem. The problem can range from a serious condition to simply being allergic to certain types of food or being unable to tolerate foods that contain gluten.
If a person suffers from halitosis, it can usually be prevented and treated by good dental and oral care, avoiding certain foods, and correcting health problems that contribute to bad breath. If bad breath is a serious problem, a person should consider a visit to a doctor or dentist who specializes in the treatment and prevention of halitosis.