Updated 22 January 2018

Symptoms of bad breath

Dryness in the mouth and a white coating on the surface of the tongue for example can be signs of halitosis.

A few of the common signs of bad breath are:

- A white coating on the surface of the tongue

- A sour, bitter or metallic taste related to higher acid levels in the mouth

- Dryness in the mouth, extreme "morning breath", or evidence of thicker saliva

- High levels of postnasal drip or mucus in the throat

- An increase in bad breath after eating certain foods, using mouthwashes or hormonal therapies, or during the menstrual cycle.

Tiny round white globules known as tonsilloliths are also related to halitosis and sour taste. They are created by sulphur gases produced by bacteria located in the throat area.

The sulphur gas mixes with the mucous and thick saliva in the back of your throat and, after a period of time, condenses into these concentrated, odorous globs.

When to see your dentist

When you are showing signs and symptoms of halitosis or when told so by a friend, make an appointment to see a dentist to help you with the problem. 

Read more:

Causes of bad breath  

Preventing bad breath  

Diagnosing bad breath

Revised and reviewed by Professor Bill Evans, BDS Dip Orth(Witwatersrand). Orthodontist: South African Dental Association and Senior Specialist, Department of Orthodontics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. February 2015.

Previously reviewed by Dr Jeff Michelson, South African Dental Association


Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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