You may occasionally suspect that you have bad breath, often because you think you can smell it in the air you exhale. But are you just imagining things? Is it likely that your halitosis is in your head, instead of in your mouth?
The short answer: it is very unlikely. If you are asking the question at all, then you probably do not have delusional halitosis (DH), a real but rare condition. The odds are much better that, yes, you really do just have a smelly mouth.
Very few people constantly suspect that they have bad breath when they really do not. A study published in the British Dental Journal found that people with DH had symptoms very similar to monosymptomatic hypochondriacal psychosis, a condition in which patients constantly believe that they have one specific illness.
A report in the journal Psychosomatics added that many people with DH complain of a constant bad taste in their mouth, which may add to the delusion. The authors noted that the condition is rare.
Real bad breath is not rare. If you think you have it, relax. There are plenty of specialty breath freshening products out there for you to choose from.