Bad Breath


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By Medicover Hospitals / 22 Jan 2021
Home | symptoms | bad-breath
  • Persistent and unpleasant odor on exhaling, generally not serious, commonly called bad breath. Bad breath may have causes that are not related to an underlying condition. For example, poor dental hygiene, dehydration, or recent intake of certain foods such as onions or garlic.
  • Article Context:

    1. What is Bad Breath?
    2. Causes
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. Prevention
    6. When to visit a Doctor?
    7. Home remedies
    8. FAQ's

    What is Bad Breath?

    • Bad breath is also called halitosis or fetor oris. Bad breath is a common condition that may cause significant psychological distress. There are several potential causes and treatments available.
    • Anyone can suffer from bad breath. It is estimated that one in four people regularly suffer from bad breath.
    • Halitosis is the third most common reason people ask for dental treatment after tooth decay or gum disease.
    • Simple home remedies and lifestyle changes, such as better dental hygiene and quitting smoking, can often solve the problem. If bad breath persists, however, it is advisable to see a dentist check for the underlying causes.


    Poor dental hygiene:

  • If you don't brush your teeth and floss every day, there are food particles in your mouth, which causes bad breath. Plaque(A colorless, sticky film of bacteria) forms on your teeth. If left unbrushed, dental plaque can irritate your gums and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis). Your tongue can also trap odor-producing bacteria. Dentures that are not cleaned regularly or do not fit properly can harbor bacteria and food particles that cause odor.
  • Infections in the mouth:

  • Surgical wounds can cause bad breath after oral surgery, such as tooth extraction, or due to tooth decay, gum disease, or mouth sores.
  • Mouth, nose, and throat disorders:

  • Sometimes small stones covered in bacteria can form on the tonsils at the back of the throat and produce an odor. Besides, infections or inflammation of the nose, throat, or sinuses can cause halitosis.
  • Tobacco Chewing and Smoking:

  • Smoking and tobacco chewing increases the chances of gum disease, which causes bad breath.
  • Dental braces:

  • When food particles struck in braces, later if braces are not cleaned properly and food in braces rot and cause bad breath.
  • Digestive problems:

  • Poor digestion, constipation, or bowel disorder can cause bad breath.
  • During Pregnancy:

  • During pregnancy morning sickness and nausea cause bad breath. In addition to these hormonal changes, dehydration, and eating different foods due to cravings can also cause bad breath.
  • Dry mouth:

  • Saliva helps cleanse your mouth by removing particles that cause bad odors. Dehydration Also causes bad breath, drink plenty of water. Chewing gum or sucking a sweet or sour food, can help with the production of saliva.
  • Diets:

  • High-Protein or Low-Carb Diets, diets that are high in sugar and protein can cause bad breath.
  • Food:

  • Some foods like garlic, onions, spicy foods, exotic spices (in curry), some cheeses, fish, and acidic beverages such as coffee causes bad breath.
  • Diagnosis:

  • Sometimes a dentist will simply smell the breath of a person with suspected halitosis and rate the odor on a six-point intensity scale. The dentist can scratch the back of the tongue and smell the scratches, as this area can often be a source of flavor.
  • There are a variety of sophisticated detectors that can assess odors more accurately. They include the following:
    • Halimeter: detects low levels of sulfur
    • Gas Chromatography: This test consists of three volatile sulfur compounds- hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, and dimethyl sulfide.
    • BANA test: It measures the levels of a specific enzyme produced by bacteria responsible for halitosis.
    • Beta-galactosidase test: Levels of the enzyme beta-galactosidase are correlated with the smell of the mouth.
  • The dentist can then identify the probable cause of the bad breath.
  • Treatment:

  • In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy and the odor is not of oral origin, you may be referred to your family doctor or to a specialist to determine the odor source and treatment plan. If the odor is due to gum disease, for example, your dentist can either treat the disease or refer you to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in treating gum conditions.
  • Prevention:

  • Bad breath can reduce or prevent if you:
    • Practice good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush teeth after you eat (keep a toothbrush at work or school to brush after lunch). Don’t forget to brush the tongue, too. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months or after an illness. Use floss or an interdental cleaner to remove food particles and plaque between teeth once a day. Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day. Dentures should be removed at night and cleaned thoroughly before being placed in your mouth the next morning.
    • See your dentist regularly, at least twice a year. He or she will conduct an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning and will detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may cause bad mouth odor.
    • Stop smoking and chewing tobacco-based products. Ask your dentist for tips on kicking the habit.
    • Drink lots of water. This will keep your mouth moist. Chewing gum (preferably sugarless) or sucking on candy (preferably sugarless) also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria. Gums and mints containing xylitol are best.
    • Keep a log of the foods you eat. If you think they may cause bad breath, bring the log to your dentist to review. Similarly, make a list of the medications you take. Some drugs may play a role in creating mouth odors.

    When to visit a Doctor?

  • If good oral hygiene does not eliminate bad breath, see a dentist or doctor for a diagnosis if the bad breath is accompanied by
    • Persistent dry mouth
    • Mouth sores
    • Pain or difficulty chewing or swallowing
    • Broken teeth or dental pain
    • White spots on the tonsils
    • Fever or fatigue
  • Also see a physician or dentist if bad breath develops after taking a new medicine, after recent dental surgery, or if any other worrying symptoms appear.
  • Home Remedies:

  • Home remedies and other lifestyle changes for bad breath include:
    • Brush your teeth:Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal.
    • Flossing:Flossing reduces the buildup of food particles and dental plaque between the teeth. Brushing only cleans about 60% of the tooth surface.
    • Clean dentures:Everything that goes into your mouth, including dentures, a bridge, or a mouth guard, should clean daily as recommended. Cleaning prevents bacteria from building up and being returned to the mouth. Changing your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months is also important for similar reasons.
    • Brushing the tongue:Bacteria, food, and dead cells usually build up on the tongue, especially in smokers or those with particularly dry mouths. Sometimes a tongue scraper can be helpful.
    • Avoid dry mouth:Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and tobacco, which dehydrate the mouth. Chewing gum or sucking on a candy, preferably sugar-free, can help stimulate saliva production. If the mouth is chronically dry, a physician may prescribe medication that stimulates the flow of saliva.
    • Diet:Avoid onions, garlic, and spicy foods. Sugary foods are also linked to bad breath. Cut down on your coffee and alcohol intake. Eating a breakfast that includes rough foods can help clean the back of the tongue.
  • If the breath odor persists despite controlling these factors, it is recommended that a person see a doctor for further testing to rule out other conditions.
  • Frequently Asked Questions:

  • You can tell if you have bad breath by putting your hands over your mouth and nose or by licking the inside of your wrist and smelling it.
  • Our mouths are naturally full of harmless bacteria that feed on the food particles left on the teeth, creating dental plaque. This process leaves behind a foul-smelling waste that causes bad breath. Just maintaining a good brushing and flossing regimen will help eliminate bad breath.
  • Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) is associated with bad breath.
  • Apple cider vinegar is a great option for balancing the pH levels in your mouth, which means it can successfully cure bad breath. You can take it on its own or add a few spoonfuls to the water.
  • By taking water, you can reduce bad breath. While it's not technically a food, water is perhaps the simplest remedy for bad breath. It keeps your mouth moist and flushes the debris from your teeth, preventing the build-up of bad bacteria. Drinking water also stimulates the production of saliva, and saliva is our mouth's first line of defense against bacteria.
  • Citations:

  • Self-perception of breath odor -
  • Bad breath-