Oral Care

How To Combat Bad Breath From Mouth? What Are Its Symptoms & Causes?

How To Combat Bad Breath From Mouth? What Are Its Symptoms & Causes

Is your breath smelling bad? Is your mouth stinky? Then probably you are suffering from a bad breath problem!

What is Bad Breath?

Bad breath or halitosis, is an unpleasant smell that comes out from the mouth. It can be either an occasional condition or a chronic one. Halitosis can be caused due to poor oral hygiene, diseases, eating certain foods, or other factors.

Causes and Health Risk Factors of Bad Breath

Even healthy people can get halitosis occasionally, and there are also many risk factors associated with it. Some important causes include:

  • Food – When it comes to bad odours, food is one of the primary sources. Some foods such as onions, garlic, spicy foods, exotic spices, cheese, fish, and acidic beverages such as coffee can leave a lasting smell. Most of the time bad breath is short-lived.
    Certain foods get stuck in between the teeth and promote the growth of bacteria and dental plaques, which are responsible for bad breath odour. Did you know that low carbohydrate diets can also cause ketone breath, which can cause your body to burn fat as its energy source and the end-product is ketones! These ketones end up smelling like a fruity acetone-like odour on the breath when exhaled.
  • Tobacco – We know that either by chewing tobacco or by smoking, certain chemicals are leftover in the mouth which causes bad breath. Smoking can precipitate gum diseases or oral cancers along with the bad breath.
  • Poor oral hygiene – If you are not brushing or flossing your teeth regularly, you can observe that certain food particles remain in the mouth which can further rot and cause bad odours. Even poor dental hygiene can lead to a buildup of plaque in the mouth which can further lead to a bad odour.
    Plaque when built up on teeth can form an unhealthy condition called periodontal disease and if this plaque hardens it can lead to tartar or calculus. Tartar holds back bacteria that in turn irritates the gums and leads to gum disease which is referred to as gingivitis, and if it is not treated then this can lead to periodontitis.
  • Health problems – Sore throat, pneumonia, sinus infections, and other throat infections like the common cold, tonsil stones, influenza, diabetes, thrush, bronchitis, postnasal drip, acid reflux, lactose intolerance, digestion problems, kidney and liver diseases may also be associated with bad breath.
  • Dry mouth – Dry mouth also referred to as xerostomia, can also cause bad breath. Saliva helps in moistening and cleansing the mouth, and if your body is not able to produce enough saliva, bad breath may result. Dry mouth can be caused due to various reasons such as:

    • Salivary gland problems
    • Connective tissue disorders
    • Certain medications
    • Breathing through the mouth
  • Allergies – Many medications are used to treat allergies which can finally end up causing dry mouth. Post-nasal drip is another common allergy symptom that can result in bad breath.
  • Mouth infections – Gum disease, cavities, or impacted teeth can also lead to bad breath.
  • Braces or dentures – If you are having braces and not brushing your teeth properly, this can lead to rot and cause bacteria and odour. Loose-fitting dentures can also cause sores in the mouth and lead to bad breath.
  • Medications – Medications such as antihistamines that treat allergies and diuretics, can cause dry mouth which in turn leads to bad breath. Other medications such as triamterene and paraldehyde lead to bad breath.
  • Morning breath – Bad breath is very common during the morning. When you are sleeping, saliva production nearly stops, allowing odour-causing bacteria to grow which in turn causes bad breath.
  • Pregnancy – Nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy can definitely lead to bad breath. Additionally, dehydration, hormonal changes and eating different foods due to cravings can also contribute to bad breath during pregnancy.

Other causes of bad breath include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Objects stuck in the nose
  • Large doses of vitamin supplements

Signs & Symptoms Associated With Bad Breath
The most obvious sign to tell if anyone is suffering from bad breath is by noticing the unpleasant smell coming out from their mouth. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Unpleasant or change in taste
  • A coating on the tongue

When Should You Consult Your Healthcare Provider About Bad Breath?
If you are unable to get rid of bad breath due to proper oral hygiene, it is advisable to consult your dentist for a diagnosis, if the bad breath is accompanied by:

  • Sores in the mouth
  • Persistent dry mouth
  • Dental pain or any broken teeth
  • Difficulty or pain while chewing or swallowing
  • Fever or fatigue
  • Any white spots on the tonsils

Also, consult your healthcare provider immediately if bad breath develops again after taking medication, or any dental surgery or any other additional symptoms if developed that are of prime importance.

Treatment Options and Folk Remedies to Treat Bad Breath

  • Quit smoking or don’t chew tobacco.
  • Try sugarless gum or sugar-free candy which can help keep your mouth from drying out further.
  • Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Also, remember to brush your tongue as well, to remove bacteria from the surface. Because brushing the tongue can help reduce bad breath that is caused by eating certain foods.
  • Keep your mouth moist by regularly drinking water and chewing sugarless gum to help stimulate the production of saliva. Try to include a diet that needs to be thoroughly chewed to keep the saliva flowing in your mouth. Foods that require a lot of chewing like carrots or apples are considered the best options.
  • You can also try OTC (Over-The-Counter) mouthwash which kills bad breath that causes bacteria and temporarily reduces bad breath odours. Yes, but a mouthwash can’t help treat the underlying cause.
  • Other natural remedies that can be considered to treat bad breath include chewing parsley or mint.


If your bad breath is caused due to health problems such as diabetes, sinus infection, acid reflux, etc., then the underlying condition needs to be treated. If the bad breath is caused due to any side effect of taking medication, then discuss with your healthcare provider whether there are any solutions to treat bad breath caused due to medications. Remember to take medication after consulting your healthcare provider.

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