Bad Breath : A medical condition seen as a social issue


Halitosis, generally known as bad breath, can be unpleasant and, in extreme situations, even make people anxious. It makes sense that gum, mints, mouthwash, and other breath fresheners are abundant on store shelves. But because they do not deal with the root issue, many of these products are merely band-aid fixes.

Among the factors contributing to foul breath are particular foods, medical conditions, and behaviours. With consistent, good dental hygiene, you can often reduce bad breath. If straightforward self-care methods are ineffective, consult a dentist or doctor to ensure a more serious condition is not to blame for your bad breath.


Most cases of foul breath begin in the mouth, and there are a number of potential reasons. They consist of

Food. Bacteria growth and bad odours can result from the breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth. Additionally, eating meals that are spiced, onion- and garlic-heavy may make foul breath worse. After being digested and absorbed into your system, these meals have an impact on your breathing.

Tobacco-related items. Smoking leaves a bad aftertaste in the mouth. Smokers and users of oral tobacco are more likely to have gum disease, another source of foul breath.

Dental hygiene issues. If you do not brush and floss daily, food particles that remain in your mouth might cause bad breath. Your teeth develop a sticky, white, bacterial covering called plaque. If plaque is not eliminated by brushing, it can irritate your gums and eventually result in plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis). Additionally, your tongue may harbour bacteria that produce odours. Dentures that do not fit well or are not cleaned frequently may gather food particles and bacteria that cause odours.

Dry mouth. Saliva aids in mouth cleaning by eliminating debris that contributes to foul odours. As less saliva is produced when a person has a dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, this disease can also cause bad breath. A dry mouth, which causes "morning breath," happens frequently while we sleep, and it gets worse if we sleep with our mouths open. A problem with your salivary glands and some diseases can lead to chronic dry mouth.

Medications. Some medications may make you feel dry-mouthed, which can make your breath terrible. Others can be metabolized by the body to produce compounds that are then exhaled.

Diseases of the mouth. In addition to tooth decay, gum disease, and mouth sores, oral surgery wounds from procedures like tooth extraction can leave surgical wounds with an unpleasant odour.

Other issues with the mouth, nose, and throat. Sometimes, tiny stones that develop in the tonsils and are covered in odour-producing bacteria might cause bad breath. In addition to contributing to postnasal drip, infections or persistent inflammation in the nose, sinuses, or throat can also result in poor breath.

Other factors. Conditions like metabolic problems and certain malignancies are examples of diseases that can create compounds that give out a particular breath smell. Bad breath may be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is a chronic reflux of stomach acids. A youngster who gets a foreign item, such a piece of food, caught in their nostril, may develop foul breath.

How to check if you have Bad Breath?

Different individuals have various odours associated with foul breath, depending on the source or underlying cause. Others have bad breath but are unaware of it, while some people have little to no mouth odour yet worry excessively about it. It might be difficult to gauge how your own breath stinks, so ask a close friend or relative to confirm your bad-breath thoughts.


Different individuals have various odours associated with foul breath, depending on the source or underlying cause. While some people have little to no mouth odour and worry excessively about it, others have foul breath but are unaware of it. Ask a close friend or relative to confirm your bad-breath suspicions because it can be challenging to judge how your own breath smells.


To lessen or stop bad breath:

After eating, brush your teeth. At work, keep a toothbrush nearby for use after meals. Use fluoride-containing toothpaste at least twice a day, ideally right after meals. It has been demonstrated that using antimicrobial toothpaste might lessen bad breath odours.

At least once each day, floss. By properly flossing between your teeth, you can reduce bad breath by removing food particles and plaque.

Clean your tongue. Bacteria on your tongue can cause odours, so gently brushing it can help. For those who have a tongue coating brought on by a significant bacterial overgrowth, a tongue scraper may be useful (from smoking or dry mouth, for example). Alternatively, use a toothbrush that includes a tongue-cleansing attachment.

Clean dental or prosthetic devices. If you wear a bridge or denture, make sure to clean it completely at least once per day or as your dentist advises. If you wear a mouth guard or dental retainer, clean it every time before putting it in your mouth. Your dentist can prescribe the best cleaning agent.

Prevent dry mouth. Avoid using tobacco, and consume plenty of water instead of coffee, soft drinks, or alcohol, which might cause your mouth to become drier. To encourage salivation, chew gum or suck on candy—preferably sugar-free. To treat persistent dry mouth, your dentist or doctor may advise taking an oral saliva-stimulating medication or using artificial saliva that has been prepared.

Change your diet. Avoid foods that can harm you, such as onions and garlic. breath. Numerous sugary foods consumption has also been associated with poor breath.

Replace your toothbrush frequently. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and you should change it every three to four months or if it starts to tear.

Plan frequent dental examinations. To have your teeth or dentures examined and cleaned, visit your dentist frequently — typically twice a year.


Consistently maintain appropriate dental hygiene to lessen bad breath, prevent cavities, and minimize your risk of developing gum disease. Depending on the cause, further treatment for bad breath may take many forms. If it is found that a medical condition is the cause of your bad breath, your dentist will likely advise that you visit your primary care physician.

Your dentist will collaborate with you to help you better manage conditions caused by oral health issues. Precautions could include the following:

Toothpaste and mouthwash. Your dentist can suggest a mouthwash that kills bacteria if the cause of your bad breath is plaque buildup on your teeth. In order to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath, your dentist may also suggest using toothpaste with an antibacterial component.

Dental disease therapy. If you have gum disease, a gum specialist may be suggested to you. Gum recession brought on by gum disease can leave behind deep pockets that breed odour-producing bacteria. These bacteria can occasionally only be removed by skilled cleaning. Additionally, your dentist might advise getting rid of poor dental fillings that serve as a haven for bacteria.

Complications of Bad Breath

Seek medical advice and possibly, dental advice if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Poor breath that persists despite several weeks of self-care treatment
  • Aching, oozing, or swollen gums
  • Toothache or adult teeth that are unstable 
  • Denture problems


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Page last reviewed: Mar 13, 2023

Next review due: Mar 13, 2025

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