What does Halitosis Smell Like

Bad breath, which can also be called halitosis, can make patients feel quite self-conscious. In some cases, bad breath could be caused by something simple like drinking coffee or eating food that contains a lot of garlic. In other cases, bad breath may be a sign of a serious medical condition or oral health issue. Patients should focus on practicing good oral hygiene at home. This includes brushing the teeth at least twice daily, daily flossing, and regular visits to the dentist. However, sometimes there is another underlying cause of bad breath. Below is a summary of five different types of bad breath and the cause for the bad breath. Patients who are concerned with the odor of the mouth should follow up with the dentist to ensure there is not a greater issue at hand.

Fruity or Sweet

Ketoacidosis is one of the many complications associated with diabetes. It often presents itself in a patient’s breath with an odor which is sweet or fruity. Diabetic patients often suffer with an insufficient production of insulin. This results in the burning of fats and the production of ketones. The ketones produce a fruity odor which can smell like acetone. This odor can also be caused by chronic kidney failure which is another symptom associated with diabetes.

Rotten Eggs

When the breath smells like rotten eggs, it typically suggests the patient has an issue related to their digestive tract. Gut microbiota breaks down sulfur, which results in the release of a gas which smells like eggs. Breath which smells like rotten eggs can be caused by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or other issues associated with the digestive track. GERD occurs when acids from the stomach regurgitate up through the esophagus, resulting in bad breath.


It is possible for a patient’s breath to actually smell like feces. When the breath smells like fecal matter, the patient most likely has an obstructed bowel. A bowel obstruction happens when the stool backs up, meaning the large and/or small intestines no longer process waste. If the patient is constipated and has bad breath which smells like poop, they typically have a bowel obstruction.

Moldy or Fungus

Microbial buildups, growths, or an infection of the sinuses can make a patient’s breath smell like mold or fungus. A sinus infection often causes the production of thick, yellow or green mucus. This overproduction of microbes, foreign particles, and metabolites build up can result in breath which smells terrible.


The kidneys are responsible for producing urine. This is done through the removal of toxic chemicals from the blood. The kidneys can become damaged, making them incapable of filtering out the waste. When this happens, waste and toxins accumulate in the body, resulting in breath which smells fishy.

Oral Hygiene

Bad breath is typically the result of poor oral hygiene or lifestyle habits such as diet or smoking. In some cases, however, bad breath may be caused by a serious health issue which requires medical attention. Patients should take their oral health seriously and follow up with their dentist if they have concerns related to bad breath or any other issue.

What is Halitosis