Halitosis simply means “the state or condition of having bad breath.” This is a serious medical issue which affects over 90 million Americans.

If someone you care about suffers from halitosis, it’s important to tell them. This unfortunate condition isn’t merely a source of embarrassment–it can also be a sign of serious underlying medical conditions.

What Causes Bad Breath?

People often assume that halitosis is entirely the result of bad oral hygiene, but the condition has many causes:

  • Dry mouth. This condition, which is also known as Xerostomia, can lead to bad breath because saliva is essential for rinsing your mouth and removing food particles which can cause bad odors. Several factors are related to Xerostomia, including aging, smoking, alcohol and drug use, health conditions, and it’s also a side effect  of certain prescription drugs.
  • Dentures. Insufficiently cleaned dentures can cause bad breath. Dental adhesives can also be a source of foul odors.
  • Smoking. Smoking causes bad breath in two ways: There’s a stench that comes directly from cigarettes and smoking also contributes to the spread of oral infections such as gum disease.
  • Inadequate oral hygiene. If the plaque and tartar that develops in your mouth isn’t removed through daily brushing and flossing and biannual dental checkups, it can lead to gum disease, a major cause of bad breath.
  • Medications. Some medications can release chemicals in your bloodstream that might cause bad breath.
  • Infections such as sores, tooth decay, and gum disease.
  • Diseases and metabolic conditions related to the throat, sinuses, tonsils, and stomach.

Bad Breath is Nothing to Be Ashamed of

As you can see, many of the causes of halitosis are related to serious medical issues.  So you’re not doing your friend with bad breath a favor by ignoring the problem. Halitosis isn’t going to go away on its own.  In addition to the potential health problems, bad breath can also damage a person’s career and social life.

The Best Way to Tell Someone

Because it can be such an embarrassing topic, it’s important to be gentle and discreet when you tell someone they have bad breath. We recommend the following strategies:

  • Tell them in private. Allowing other people to hear the conversation will probably increase your friend’s level of embarrassment.
  • Tell them directly instead of offering them mints or gum. This might be awkward, but the issue needs to be addressed.
  • Tell them there’s hope. Halitosis is a medical condition with several remedies.  But they need to see a professional who specializes in treating it.
  • Tell them it’s dangerous to ignore halitosis, which could be a symptom of a serious condition that requires medical attention.

The Medical Hazards of Ignoring Halitosis

Halitosis could be a sign that your friend is suffering from a serious medical condition, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Gum Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Failure
  • Chronic Acid Reflux
  • Allergies
  • Liver Disease

Hope for People with Halitosis

The most important thing to inform your friend with halitosis is that there’s help available. So tell your friend about the Center for Breath Treatment, in Berkeley, CA. We’re here to help.



1 comment. Leave new

Maia Dobson
May 2, 2012 9:48 am

Telling a friend that he has bad breath is really embarrassing on both parties. I agree that honesty and sincerity is necessary for this one to work. After all, you're friends and you only want the best for him.

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