What is Halitosis

Bad breath is quite common. Patients may feel especially insecure about the odor in their mouth when they are in close proximity to others. According to studies, an estimated 50 percent of adults have experienced halitosis or bad breath in their lifetime.


Various different things can contribute to bad breath. Some of the causes are rather harmless, while other times the bad breath is an indicator or a serious health issue. Common causes for bad breath or halitosis are summarized below.

Gum Disease

One of the most common causes for chronically bad breath is gum disease. Gum disease occurs where this is an accumulation and buildup of plaque over time.


There are hundreds of different types of bacteria present in the mouth. Because of the warm temperature and constant moisture in the mouth, it allows for bacteria to easily grow. After eating, debris in the mouth is consumed by the bacteria, leaving behind a foul-smelling odor.

Dry Mouth

Patients with a dry mouth do not produce adequate amounts of saliva. Saliva production is critical because it helps clear away debris from drinking and eating. Ultimately helping maintain a clean and healthy mouth. The lack of saliva can make the mouth dirty. Patients may have a dry mouth from some types of medications, breathing from their mouth, or from other issues such as salivary gland problems.

In order to maintain a good amount of saliva in the mouth, patients should consume a healthy diet which is rich in fruits and vegetables. Some patients find it is helpful to use sugar-free gum or candy to help stimulate the production of saliva. In some cases, the dentist may suggest the use of artificial saliva.

Food and Beverages

There are certain types of foods and drinks which can also result in bad breath. This can include things such as garlic, onions, and strong coffee. What a patient eats can directly impact the odor of their mouth.

Tobacco Habits

There are many negative things associated with the use of tobacco. Smoking can stain the teeth, give patients bad breath, and increase their risk for other serious health issues. In addition, tobacco irritates the gum tissue and limits the ability to taste. Tobacco use also makes patients at a higher risk for having gum disease. Smoking also affects a patient’s ability to smell, making it challenging to even be aware of bad breath.

Medical Issues

When the mouth has an infection, it can cause bad breath. The dentist will first need to rule out other causes and ensure the patient has good oral hygiene. It is possible that bad breath is caused by another issue like a sinus condition, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. In the event that the bad breath is caused by an underlying health issue, the patient will need to work with their primary care physician.

Tips for maintaining a healthy mouth and preventing bad breath are summarized below.

Oral Hygiene

Patients should brush their teeth at least twice each day. Flossing daily is also critical in order to remove debris from between the teeth. Practicing good oral hygiene is critical in the prevention of bad breath and maintenance of good oral health.

Dental Appliances

Patients who wear removable dentures or have other types of dental appliances should ensure they are properly cleaned on a regular basis. The dentist will provide instructions on how to maintain clean dentures.

Routine Visits to the Dentist

Another important element of good oral hygiene is to make regular visits to the dentist for an examination and professional cleaning. This is also an opportunity for the dentist to detect the presence of any issues in the mouth and ensure they are promptly treated.

Patients who are concerned or self-conscious about their bad breath should follow up with their dentist. The dentist can help identify the cause and help the patient eliminate their bad breath.

How do I get rid of bad breath