What is Bad Breath?

Bad breath also known as Halitosis can be caused by many factors such as, poor oral hygiene, certain foods, health conditions and habits such as smoking. Bad breath is an unpleasant odour that omits from the mouth, resulting in a person feeling embarrassed and with possible social anxiety.

Causes of bad breath

Poor oral hygiene is one of the main causes of bad breath. The mouth is home to various types of bacteria that can produce a bad sulphur like odour when breaking down proteins. The bacteria lie’s in crevices of the tongue, between the teeth, in the throat and under the gum line. Without effective removal, food particles that trap between the teeth after eating can become a food source for bacteria resulting in further bacterial growth.

A dry mouth (also known as Xerostomia) is caused by reduced saliva flow and can lead to bad breath. The saliva production is imperative to aid the cleansing of the mouth. Saliva neutralises the acids which are produced by plaque and washes away dead cells. Reduced saliva flow can also be caused by drinks (such as alcohol and coffee) and medication. Medications can release chemicals as they are metabolized in the body causing an odour in the mouth.

Cigarettes, cigars or alternative tobacco products produce their own unpleasant smell. Smoking can also lead to gum disease which is a cause of bad breath. Gum disease occurs when the gums become infected from the germs in plaque. The gums will be red, swollen and sore and may even bleed.

There are other health conditions other than gum disease that can alter the smell of your breath. Conditions such as having a sinus or throat infection and digestive issues. Digestive problems such as reflux can cause stomach acid to rise up into the mouth resulting in bad smells. Metabolic changes in the body that can occur from diabetes, liver or kidney disease can release distinctive odours.


Maintaining your oral health through regular tooth brushing, flossing and cleaning of the tongue can help to prevent the bad bacteria and plaque from building up in the mouth.

  • Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day for two minutes, using a fluoride toothpaste. This will remove bacteria, plaque and any food debris.
  • Flossing removes plaque and trapped food from the mouth which brushing may miss.
  • Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash. This kills bacteria and will freshen your breath.

Visit your dentist regularly. Dental check-ups and professional cleaning help to identify any oral issues which may be the cause of bad breath.

Keeping hydrated will help to prevent a dry mouth, as will chewing gum as the chewing motion stimulates the production of saliva which naturally cleanses the mouth. Drinking water regularly throughout the day keeps your mouth moist and washes away food waste and bacteria.

Alter your diet by avoiding odour causing foods such as garlic, onions and spices. Eat more crunchy fruit and vegetables such as carrots and apples as these help to naturally keep your mouth clean and avoid sugar as this promotes bacterial growth.

For infections and digestive health, consult your GP for treatment of nasal and oral infections along with any digestive issues such as reflux which can lead to bad breath.

If you are worried about what’s causing your bad breath, please call us on 01709 917666 or click the button below to book an appointment.

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