Bad breath (halitosis): causes and treatment

Bad breath, or halitosis, affects approximately 30% of people.1 If you have halitosis and are looking for a solution, the following information can help.

Overview

Bad breath is an unpleasant mouth odor that can affect you and the people around you. Although there are mints and other temporary solutions, halitosis can have a negative impact on your confidence and self-esteem. Strong or long-lasting cases can also be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as gum disease.2

Causes

Bad breath can have many different causes:3

  • Food
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Dry mouth
  • Medication
  • Tobacco products
  • Mouth, nose and throat infections
  • Gum disease

Symptoms

The main symptom of halitosis is a bad odor from the mouth. The strength of the odor, and how long it lasts, can depend on the cause. Other symptoms may include a coating on the tongue, dry mouth and a constant bad taste in your mouth.4

Treatment options for halitosis

In many cases, you can improve bad breath at home with good oral hygiene and diet changes. However, if you have chronic or severe halitosis, you may want to visit your dentist or doctor for evaluation and treatment.

Home treatments for halitosis5

  • Brush your teeth after you eat
  • Brush your tongue
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Use antiseptic mouthwash at least once a day
  • Avoid dry mouth
  • Adjust your diet
  • Clean dentures and dental appliances regularly

Dental and medical treatments for halitosis6

  • Regular dental exams and cleanings at least twice a year
  • Periodontal cleaning
  • Antibacterial toothpaste and/or mouthwash

Humana can help with bad breath treatment

If you need dental treatment for bad breath, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana Insurance Company dental insurance page.

Sources

  1. “Bad Breath: What Causes It and What to Do about It,” Harvard Health Publishing, last accessed September 8, 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/bad-breath-what-causes-it-and-what-to-do-about-it-2019012115803, opens new window.
  2. “Bad breath,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed September 24, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bad-breath/symptoms-causes/syc-20350922, opens new window.
  3. “Bad breath.”
  4. “Bad Breath (Halitosis),” eMedicineHealth.com, last accessed September 24, 2020, https://www.emedicinehealth.com/bad_breath_halitosis/article_em.htm#what_are_the_symptoms_of_bad_breath, opens new window.
  5. “Bad breath.”
  6. “Bad breath.”