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Bad Breath - Origins & Solutions

Bad Breath - Origins & Solutions


Bad breath is a problem that many people have to deal with and can cause significant psychological distress.

Anyone can suffer from bad breath, and it's estimated that 1 in 4 people suffer from bad breath on a regular basis.

Halitosis is the third most common reason people seek dental care, after tooth decay and gum disease. There are a number of potential causes and treatments available.

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 doctor to check for underlying causes.

Let's take a look at some of the causes and treatments for bad breath.

Causes of bad breath


Tobacco products can cause their own kinds of mouth odor.

In addition, they increase the risk of gum disease, which can also cause bad breath.

So there's another reason to quit smoking.

Certain foods

Decaying food particles stuck in teeth can cause odor.

Certain foods, such as onions and garlic, can also cause bad breath.

After being digested, their breakdown products are carried in the blood to the lungs where they can affect breathing.

So avoiding those foods might help.

Dry mouth

Saliva naturally cleans the mouth, so if the mouth is naturally dry or dry due to a specific condition, such as xerostomia, odors can build up.

Dental hygiene

Brushing and flossing removes small food particles that can accumulate and slowly break down, producing bad breath.

A film of bacteria called plaque builds up if brushing is not regular. This plaque can irritate the gums and cause inflammation between the teeth and the gums called periodontitis.

Dentures that aren't cleaned regularly or properly can also harbor bacteria that cause halitosis.

Some diets

Fasting and low carb eating programs can produce bad breath.

This is caused by the breakdown of fats, producing chemicals called ketones. These ketones have a strong aroma.

Certain drugs

Some medications can reduce saliva and therefore increase odor.

Other medications can produce odors when they break down and release chemicals into the breath.

Examples include nitrates used to treat angina, certain chemotherapy chemicals, and certain tranquilizers, such as phenothiazines.

People who take high doses of vitamin supplements can also be prone to bad breath.

Mouth, nose and throat conditions

Sometimes small stones covered in bacteria can form on the tonsils at the back of the throat and produce an odor.

In addition, infections or inflammation of the nose, throat, or sinuses can cause bad breath.

These are some of the most common reasons for bad breath.

However, it's possible that bad breath is caused by more serious underlying conditions, so it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor about bad breath.

Some of the underlying conditions mentioned include:

  • Kioacidosis: When a person with diabetes's insulin levels are very low, their body can no longer use sugar and begins to use fat stores instead. When fat is broken down, ketones are produced and build up. Ketones can be toxic when present in large numbers and produce a characteristic, unpleasant breath odor. Ketoacidosis is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
  • Bronchiectasis: This is a long-term condition in which the airways become wider than normal, allowing mucus to build up which leads to bad breath.
  • Aspiration pneumonia: Swelling or infection of the lungs or airways due to inhalation of vomit, saliva, food or liquids.

How to treat bad breath

Fortunately, treating bad breath that isn't caused by underlying conditions can be done at home, simply by adding a few steps to your personal hygiene routine.

Brush your teeth

Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal, to reduce bad breath.

Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for 2 minutes to make sure they are perfectly clean.

If you have an electric toothbrush, you know it will notify you when 2 minutes have passed.

If you don't have an electric toothbrush, you can set a timer or sing a song to keep track of time.


We understand that flossing can be annoying, but it's necessary because it reduces the buildup of food particles and plaque between teeth.

Brushing only cleans about 60% of the tooth surface.

Clean your dentures

Anything that goes into your mouth, including dentures, a bridge or a mouth guard, should be cleaned daily as recommended.

Cleansing prevents bacteria from building up and being transferred to the mouth. Changing your toothbrush every 2-3 months is also important for similar reasons.

Brush your tongue too

Bacteria, food, and dead cells commonly accumulate on the tongue, especially in smokers or those with particularly dry mouths.

A tongue scraper can sometimes be useful.

Avoid dry mouth

Drink lots 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 doctor may prescribe medications that stimulate the flow of saliva.

Avoid certain foods

Avoid onions, garlic and spicy foods. Sugary foods are also linked to bad breath.

Reduce coffee and alcohol consumption. Eating a breakfast that includes rough foods can help clear the back of the tongue.


Bad breath is a condition that is certainly unpleasant to deal with, as it can interfere with your daily life and make you feel self-conscious.

Fortunately, if there is no underlying condition causing bad breath, you can fix this problem very easily.

By taking good care of your dental hygiene, you will get rid of the problem and you will feel better.

However, if breath odor persists despite these factors being controlled, it is recommended that you seek medical attention to discuss your concerns.

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