halitosis (hălˌĭtōˈsĭs) [key], unpleasant odor carried on the breath. It is usually the result of gum disorder, tooth decay, smoking, indulgence in aromatic foods, or a mild digestive upset. Known commonly as bad breath, halitosis may also be indicative of lung or sinus infection, uremia, cirrhosis of the liver, or tonsil stones. The minty odor of acetone on the breath is a symptom of diabetes mellitus. Successful treatment of halitosis consists of eliminating or controlling the underlying cause. Proper diet and dental hygiene are often helpful. Mouthwashes and scented toothpastes mask the condition but do not alleviate it. A physician should be consulted for persistent cases of halitosis.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.