Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a symptom in which a noticeably unpleasant breath odour is present. It can result in anxiety among those affected. It is also associated with depression and symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.
The concerns of bad breath may be divided into genuine and non-genuine cases. Of those who have genuine bad breath, about 85% of cases come from inside the mouth. The remaining cases are believed to be due to disorders in the nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, esophagus, or stomach. Rarely, bad breath can be due to an underlying medical condition such as liver failure or ketoacidosis. Non-genuine cases occur when someone feels they have bad breath but someone else cannot detect it. This is estimated to make up between 5% and 72% of cases.
The treatment depends on the underlying cause. Initial efforts may include tongue cleaning, mouthwash and flossing. Tentative evidence supports the use of mouthwash containing chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride. While there is tentative evidence of benefit from the use of a tongue cleaner it is insufficient to draw clear conclusions. Treating underlying disease such as gum disease, tooth decay, or gastroesophageal reflux may help. Counseling may be useful in those who falsely believe that they have bad breath.
Estimated rates of bad breath vary from 6% to 50% of the population. Concern about bad breath is the third most common reason people seek dental care, after tooth decay and gum disease. It is believed to become more common as people age. Bad breath is viewed as a social taboo and those affected may be stigmatized. People in the United States spend more than $1 billion per year on mouthwash to treat the condition.