Bad breath: Causes and Treatment of Mouth Odour

Bad breath, known in medical terminology as halitosis, can be quite humiliating. Using mouthwash, gum, and mints only provides a temporary relief without addressing the underlying condition. Some causes of bad breath include health condition, certain foods, and health conditions. You can get rid of bad breath with consistent proper dental hygiene. However, you may need to see a dentist if simple self-care techniques don’t help.

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Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible causes. They include:

  • Food particles in and around your teeth can increase bacteria and cause an unpleasant mouth odor. Eating onions, garlic and spices, also can cause bad breath. After you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and affect your breath.
  • Tobacco products.Smokers and oral tobacco users are also more likely to have gum disease, which in turn leads to bad breath.
  • Poor dental hygiene.Improper brushing and flossing of your mouth on daily basis leads to mouth odour because food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. A colorless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth and failure to brush it away properly can irritate your gums, forming plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis). Your tongue also can trap bacteria that produce odors.
  • Dry mouth.Saliva helps cleanse your mouth, removing particles that cause bad odors. Dry mouth can contribute to bad breath because there is reduction in the production of saliva. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to “morning breath,” and it worsens if you sleep with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth can be caused by a problem with your salivary glands and some diseases.
  • Some medications can indirectly produce bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.
  • Infections in your mouth.Bad breath can be caused by surgical wounds after oral surgery, such as tooth removal, or as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores.
  • Other mouth, nose and throat conditions.Bad breath can come from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor. Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause bad breath.

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Your dentist may smell both the breath from your mouth and nose to rate the odor on a scale. Your dentist may scrape the back of the tongue and rate its odor since it is most often the source of the smell. There are detectors that can identify the chemicals responsible for bad breath.


You have to practice good oral hygiene consistently to avoid cavities and lower your risk of gum disease. If your bad breath caused by an underlying health condition, your dentist will refer you to your doctor.

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For causes related to oral health, your dentist will work with you to help you better control that condition. Dental measures may include:

  • Mouth rinses and toothpastes:bad breath caused by accumulation of bacteria (plaque) on your teeth may be eliminated with a mouth rinse that kills the bacteria. Your dentist may also recommend a toothpaste that contains an antibacterial agent to kill the bacteria that cause plaque buildup.
  • Treatment of dental disease:Gum disease can cause gums to pull away from your teeth, leaving deep pockets that fill with odor-causing bacteria. These bacteria may be removed only by professional cleaning. Your dentist might also recommend replacing faulty tooth restorations.

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