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Bad Breath: Causes and Remedies

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Bad Breath: Causes and Treatment

Bad breath, also called halitosis, is an oral health problem characterized by an unpleasant mouth odor. It can result from the foods a person eats, poor dental habits, medical conditions, or other factors such as smoking. Often, it is an embarrassing condition and causes anxiety.

In most cases, bad breath can be managed with proper dental hygiene or necessary lifestyle modification such as quitting smoking and avoiding foods that cause bad breath. If these self-care techniques do not solve the problem, it is best to see a dentist or physician to determine if a more serious condition causes bad breath.


The most obvious symptom of bad breath is the unpleasant odor coming from the mouth during exhalation. Sometimes, there are people who have bad breath but do not notice it. Some may tell you about the bad breath upfront but some prefer to give you a larger than normal personal space.


There are many causes for bad breath. It may be caused by the following:

  • Food. Food is the primary culprit for bad breath. If foods eaten are stuck in the teeth, it promotes growth of bacteria that causes the bad breath. Foods, such as onions, garlic, and spices, can also cause bad breath. These foods are absorbed in the bloodstream and carried into the lungs and cause bad breath upon exhalation.
  • Tobacco products. Cigarettes and tobacco can leave certain chemicals in the mouth that can contribute to bad breath.  Smokers also are more likely to have Gum disease, another source of bad breath.
  • Poor dental hygiene. When a person fails to brush and floss regularly, food particles remain in the mouth and can rot, causing bad odors. Plaques on the teeth also irritate the gums that can possibly produce odor on its own and can possibly cause conditions such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Also, dentures that aren’t cleaned regularly or don’t fit properly can harbour odour-causing bacteria.
  • Dry mouth. Saliva helps cleanse the mouth, removing particles that may cause bad odours. If saliva production is decreased, bad breath is more likely to occur.
  • 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 causes. Alcoholism, metabolic disorders and large doses of vitamin supplements.

 Treatments and drugs

Treatment for bad breath depends on every specific cause. Good oral hygiene is always the hallmark management for bad breath.

  • Mouth rinses and toothpastes. Mouth rinses containing cetylpyridinium chloride and those with chlorhexidine can kill bacteria and prevent production of odors that cause bad breath.
  • Treatment of dental disease. If your dentist discovers that you have gum disease, you may be referred to a gum specialist (periodontist). Professional cleaning and faulty tooth replacement may be performed to destroy possible breeding ground of bacteria that can cause bad breath.

Lifestyle and Home remedies

  • Maintain good oral hygiene.
  • Avoid foods that cause bad breath.
  • Quit smoking cigarettes and tobacco



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