The Definition of Halitosis – Bad Breath Explained

Halitosis is a problem that occurs in many people, some of whom don’t even realize that they have it. But when someone learns the true definition of halitosis, and how to combat it, most of the time, they succeed in getting rid of it.

Halitosis can be simply defined as bad breath. For those of you wanting a ‘proper’ definition, several are shown below:

  • A condition of having offensive-smelling breath; bad breath.
  • (Pathology) the state or condition of having bad breath
  • bad breath; an unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth
  • a condition of having fetid breath

The Latin Word Halitus

Interestingly, the word halitosis hasn’t been around for a that long of a time. It originally started back in the 1920s by a man named Gerard Lambert. For those who don’t know, Lambert was the son of Jordan Lambert, the owner of Listerine, a company known now-a-days for their mouthwashes.

Listerine at that point in time was trying to promote their new brand of mouthwashes, and having a hard time doing so. They had done well selling floor cleaners, dandruff hair removal, and other antiseptics.
Gerard Lambert coined the word halitosis to help drive people to their mouthwash product. He did this by combining two words, a Latin word, and a Greek word.

The Latin word ‘Halitus’ simply means ‘breath’. The Greek word ‘Osis’ can be translated as ‘diseased’. When you mesh the two words together, ‘Halit-osis’ is born.
So the original meaning of the word ‘Halitosis’ really means ‘diseased breath’. In a sense, ‘Halitosis’ isn’t even a real word! It’s was just made up to have people buy a product that said it could cure a made-up word!

The Truth of Halitosis

While Halitosis isn’t real word in a sense, it is a real concept. Many people do suffer from bad breath, from ‘diseased breath’.

Halitosis typically comes from the top of the tongue and/or the back of the throat area. It usually comes about by bad bacteria producing sulfur waste that doesn’t properly get taken care of.

Hundreds of bacteria live in your oral cavity (mouth). Not all of them are good though. There are some bad bacteria that brings about bad breath.

Bacteria feeds on proteins and other stuff in your mouth. As they eat, they leave waste behind. Much of this waste has some sort of sulfur compounds.

As these sulfur compounds build up, they can change your breath, so that it smells worse than it really is. That’s typically why bad breath smells like rotten eggs or decaying food, because both of those have sulfur in them.

Halitosis can also come from your teeth. Many people neglect oral hygiene, and don’t brush their teeth or floss as much as they should. Many times, a simple flossing can clear up your bad breath.

Food particles love to get lodged and trapped in different places in your mouth, and your teeth are no exception. As you crunch down on food, and grind it down with your back molars, it will almost naturally get stuck between your teeth.

If you leave those bits of food between your teeth (i.e. not floss), you’ll get bad breath. That will also help to break down the enamel around your teeth, which may just bring about a cavity, something you should be trying to avoid.

The Dangers of Halitosis

Halitosis is dangerous, but not contagious. Before I talk about the dangers, I do want to clear up a myth that many people believe, and that is the myth that you can get bad breath from someone else.

As we have already learned, halitosis comes from bad bacteria and the sulfur that that bacteria produces. While different kinds of bacteria can move from person to person, especially through kissing, that doesn’t mean that does.

Most of the time, people have this bad bacteria in their mouths already, and their bodies are able to get rid of the sulfur waste before it builds up enough to change your breath.

On top of that, when you smell someone’s bad breath, you’re smelling the smell of the bacteria from that person’s mouth. You’re not smelling in the bacteria itself from the person’s mouth, just the smell.

So halitosis isn’t contagious. But there are dangers of and from halitosis.

  1. There is the danger of being disliked because of your halitosis. There are numerous people who have reported that they haven’t been able to get a significant other because of the way their breath smells.
  2. Many have talked about the danger of not getting a job, because during the interview, their halitosis was too overpowering. Several people have been turned down for a job, not because they didn’t meet the qualifications, but because they had foul-smelling breath.
  3. A few have complained about the danger of getting the cold shoulder from their friends, family, and co-workers, because of their bad breath. Halitosis has caused divisions in many people’s lives when they’re around other people.

Also, while it’s not typical, there has been medical disorders associated with bad breath.

  1. Kidney Failure. Typically, when your kidneys aren’t working properly, you saliva production goes down. With less saliva in your mouth to moisten everything, your mouth could start suffering from a symptom call dry mouth, which brings about bad breath.
  2. Diabetes. A diabetic person usually takes insulin, since they can’t produce it themselves. If a person is unaware that they are diabetic, that person will burn fat, and increase the number of ketones in their body. The body naturally gets rid of these ketones either through the urine or the lungs. And what is expelled through your lungs directly relates to the smell of your breath. Most often, when this is happening, your breath will have a fruity smell to it.
  3. Liver Disease. A musty smell in origin, This disease changes your breath before it shows itself in other obvious means.

Now just because you have bad breath doesn’t mean that you have some chronic disorder. For example, if I accidentally whack my arm against something, and it starts hurting, it doesn’t mean that my arm is broken.

Most likely my arm would be just bruised and will take a while to heal. While it is possible it is broken, it’s not plausible. And so it is with halitosis.

If you’re really paranoid, you can have a trusted friend give you an idea on how your breath smells, as certain smells usually mean certain things. But in most cases, bad breath isn’t something chronic.

Relieving Your Bad Breath

In some cases, if halitosis comes to someone, it can leave just as quickly as it came. This is typically true when you do something to your body that causes the bad breath. For example, if you smoke or eat something potent, like garlic or onions, you may have bad breath.

If you stop those things (i.e. smoking or eating certain foods), your halitosis will clear up naturally. But often time that is not the case.

Halitosis is like any other body odor. Many times, you have to take something to help mask the smell of your breath. Sometimes a holistic approach will work, such as changing your diet, or having better oral hygiene. But many times it doesn’t.
There are companies that sell mouthwashes to help clear up your bad breath. One main thing you want to watch out for in these mouthwashes, is alcohol. Alcohol dries things out rather easily, especially your mouth.

Dry mouth is a common factor for those who have bad breath. With dry mouth, your saliva production isn’t as high as it normally is, and can’t help fight the bad bacteria as it typically does. Since the bad bacteria, and their sulfuric waste is out in the open, your breath can easily pick up those smells as it leaves your mouth.
So what are companies that have good quality products that will help your breath? Many come to mind, but three of them I’ll discuss in greater detail, And those companies are TheraBreath, SmartMouth, and CloSYS.


TheraBreath has been around for several decades, becoming one of the the top producers of oral hygiene products. Dr. Harold Katz, a dentist by trade, with a background in bacteriology, started the company after finding that bad breath usually comes from the back of the throat and on the top of the tongue.

TheraBreath sells a broad variety of products. From starter kits and nasal drips, to whitened teeth powder, TheraBreath has got you covered.

TheraBreath’s mouthwash oral rinse is for people suffering from halitosis. It has been clinically tested to last up to 12 hours, and typically lasts up to 24 hours.
It has been found to be gluten free, Kosher friendly, and certified Vegan. Choosing non-acidic ingredients, TheraBreath’s mouthwash tries to keep the pH of your mouth at the right stage.

Most of the times, when your mouth becomes more acidic, the bad bacteria multiply and flourish, as they love that type of environment. That’s why TheraBreath (and other companies) try to stay away from acidic products.
It has no added alcohol, no food colors, or artificial flavors. Simple to use directions, and great ratings, TheraBreath boasts of no other product clearing up halitosis as fast as their product.

Buy now, and clear up your breath immediately.


SmartMouth, started by Dr. Marvin Cohen, uses revolutionary technology to help clear up bad breath. What Dr. Cohen found was that zinc ion, properly implemented, was able to bind with the bad, sulfur producing bacteria to stop them from stinking up your breath.

SmartMouth’s mouthwash claims to last more than 24 hours, much longer than other mouthwashes, rinses, mints, or chewing gums.

SmartMouth sells their mouthwash with non-alcohol ingredients and as sugar-free. Using natural sweeteners, SmartMouth helps to keep you from having too much sugar in your mouth.

SmartMouth has also received the approval from professionals dentists, and the product that dentists all over the world recommend.
SmartMouth is a little different than other mouthwashes and rinses. Because the zinc ions need to be activated before rinsing, SmartMouth has two chambers in one bottle, one for the active ingredient, and the other for the zinc ions.
As you pour it out, the two liquids, coming out of separate spouts, mix together and activate. It’s recommended to use immediately after pouring to ensure activation.

Also, several have complained of a metallic taste in their mouth after rinsing, usually caused by the zinc ions, and by rinsing too long. Make sure not to rinse longer than 30 seconds, and you should be fine.

Order now, and use patented technology to break up your bad breath.


In the early 90s, Dr. Perry Ratcliff found that a stabilized form of chlorine dioxide helped cure bad breath. Because of this, and other factors, he started CloSYS so that he could help those who suffered with halitosis.
CloSYS brings a mouthwash to the table that is alcohol-free, tristclosan-free, gluten-free, sulfate-free, and non-irritating. Their mouthwash also helps keep the pH of your mouth balanced.

They also sell it fluoride-free, for those who don’t think fluoride is good for them. Another achievement is being approved by the ADA (American Dental Association).

Using CloSYS is relatively simple. Pour it out, swish, and rinse. CloSYS recommends doing it after brushing and flossing, along with not using it within 30 minutes of eating.

What’s nice about CloSYS is that, while their solution does need to be activated, it is activated by amino acids, which can be found in your saliva. So all you need to get it into your mouth, let your mouth do what it naturally does, and you’ve activated it. It can’t get much simpler than that.

Buy now, and begin to relieve your halitosis.

In Conclusion

The definition of halitosis is an interesting one, made up by a company just so people would by their product. There are several products out there that can help you clear up your halitosis.

Bad breath has plagued people 2000 years ago, and will probably be with people 2000 years from now. But with proper hygiene, a balanced pH, and maybe a product or two, anyone, regardless of when or where they lived, should be able to take control of their halitosis.

Feel differently about halitosis? or recommend a better product? Write down below and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

11 thoughts on “The Definition of Halitosis – Bad Breath Explained”

  1. This article on the definition of Halitosis is very informative, well laid out and easy to follow. My eldest daughter has a slight problem with bad breath – it is not that bad but would like to sort it out for her all the same. The dangers outlined here are an eye opener, can you suggest any quick fix solutions or products for my daughter please?

    • Hey William,

      If you want a quick fix then any of the three products I listed at the bottom of the article should work. I would recommend that she flosses and brushes her teeth more often, if she isn’t doing that. Depending on where the bad breath is coming from (you can find out about that here), it may just be a matter of having basic oral hygiene that will give your daughter better breath.


  2. Good afternoon Andy,

    I found it very interesting to read how the word Halitosis was “born”
    Very clever of Mr. Listerine to come up with the combination of a Latin and Greek word combination.
    I have stopped smoking some years ago. My already very well functioning nose has been fine-tuned by this and now I enjoy smells more intensely. Sadly also bad smells have become more noticeable.
    I immediately spot people with bad breath not really so pleasant.
    I am a fan of oil pulling and use coconut every morning and must say it is very effective against bad breath.
    Thank you for this informative article.

    Regards, Taetske

    • Hey Taetske,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I’ve heard of coconut oil to cure bad breath. I’ll definitely have to look into it, and maybe write an article about it. 


  3. Love the article, thanks for all the good information. I think that there are a lot of us that are concerned that we have bad breath but it can be hard to determine on your own (if no one is willing to tell you). I started using the smart mouth product and while I do like it, it’s not easy to tell if it works (again if yo can’t tell if you have bad breath, how can you tell if it goes away!). You article has confirmed that it actually does what is claims to do. So thank you for putting my mind at ease.

    • Hey David,

      Thanks so much for the comment, and the positive feedback. Halitosis is one of those things that is hard to tell whether you have it not. I actually wrote an article about that same subject, which can be found here. It’s definitely not going to tell you with 100% certainty whether you have bad breath or not, but it is a starting place and will get you started in the right direction.


  4. Very good.Andy, I can relate to bad breath because i have bad breath some times. I think I will get some SmartMouth .Thank you for your site it helps explain some of the root causes of bad breath.I like the way your site is designed and i think that you put your link in a perfect spot.Bob

    • Thanks Bob.

      Yeah, bad breath can affect even the best of us, It’s something that we shouldn’t be afraid of, but realize that we can easily take care of it through various means. 


  5. CommentI’ve been dealing with bad breath for years nothing seem working, I see my dentist every 3 months for cleanings,i brush and floss several times a day gum and mints do not help, tried all the bad breath products- pro-fresh, cloys, went to my doctor he told me to take a multivitamin. went to a couple of ent’s- prescribed me some nasal spray, even my brilliant dentist couldn’t help me, so I just gave up & tried to accept I would have bad breath forever, even though I brushed & flossed at least twice every day, so i suggested I try A herbal doctor call Dr,Aloma that i saw people testifying about his great work,I contacted him via [email redacted] he prepared the herbs immediately and sent it to me through UPS fast delivering services,After sticking to him for a couple of days as i was instructed my bad breath was totally cured permanently.He can as well cured the following diseases (Hiv\Aid)(Genital herpes)(diabetic)(Hepatitis b\c) (fatty liver) his cell phone number}[number redacted] goodluck……..

  6. Hi doctor l was really interested in reading this article thank you very much l hope you answered me please because I’m crying right now l am suffering from bad breath suddenly when I was 14 years old l feel shamed and can’t go to the dentist
    Believe me l brush my teeth 3 times a day and flossing and use mouth washes and nothing is work and l am known 21 years old l have friends and I don’t have any systemic disease or taking medication l also brush my tongue and scrap it
    It is more white but it’s never hurt or sore
    Please help me l don’t know what to do

    • Hey Ms D,

      Unfortunately, it could be a number of reason why you have bad breath. I would recommend looking into whether you have tonsil stones or some sort of sinus issues, as they can often be reasons that people have bad breath.

      Never give up in figuring out why you have bad breath. I know it make suck right now, and it may make most people shy away from you (I know it did for me). But just remember there will be a day when you figure things out, and you’ll be able to enjoy a more normal and pleasant life.


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