Halitosis (Bad Breath)

Table of Contents

What is Halitosis (Bad Breath)?

Halitosis is when you have bad breath dure to numerous factors. If you have halitosis, bad breath cannot simply go away even by eating candy, breath mints or brushing your teeth. 

Bad breath is generally caused by the presence of bacteria that develop in your mouth. The bacteria then produces sulfur gas that causes an unpleasant odour. 

Causes of Halitosis (Bad Breath)

Certain Types of Foods

Some foods contain strong aromas that can cause bad breath, such as durian, spices, onions, and garlic. Frequent consumption of such foods can affect your breath as after the food has been digested, it will be carried in the blood up to the lungs.

Poor Oral Hygiene 

Chewed food will be broken down into smaller particles. It is common for such particles to be stuck between your teeth. These food leftovers, if not cleaned properly, will become plaque. Plaque is a thin and sticky layer that covers your teeth and contains bacteria. Plaque can cause bad breath or halitosis.

If the plaque is left to accumulate and harden, the plaque will turn into tartar. Tartar has the potential to cause gum irritation, inflammation, as well as infections that can trigger bad breath. 

Poor oral care can also cause halitosis. Therefore, be sure to clean your tongue when brushing your teeth.

If you are wearing dentures or braces, be sure to keep them clean to prevent you from bad breath.

Certain types of diseases

Some diseases can cause bad breath, such as cancer, liver failure, as well as other metabolic diseases. Those diseases produce chemicals and can cause bad breath. Gastroesofageal reflux disease (GERD) can also cause bad breath.

Smoking habits

Cigarettes contain tobacco, which has a quite strong aroma. Aside from the smell of tobacco, excessive and continuous consumption of tobacco can increase the risk of gum disease – which will cause an unpleasant breath. 

In addition, smoking can reduce saliva production in the mouth and cause dry mouth. A dry mouth will then cause bad breath. 


Some types of medications can increase saliva production in your mouth. This can also put you at higher risk of developing bad breath. This process occurs when the chemicals contained in the medications are broken down and released into your breath. Medications that have the potential to cause bad breath are chemotherapy chemicals as well as sedatives.

In addition to the above causes, the risk of experiencing bad breath or halitosis can be higher due to a variety of factors such as:

  • Lack of water consumption
  • Advanced age
  • Not brushing your teeth regularly
  • Not flossing teeth on a regular basis
  • Active smoking habits
  • Allergy medications, blood pressure, antidepressants, and others
  • History of kidney, liver, or diabetes disorders

When to See a Doctor for Halitosis (Bad Breath)

To detect halitosis (bad breath), your doctor will examine your breath from the mouth and from the nose. If necessary, your doctor will take a sample of your saliva. This saliva sample will later be used as a reference to diagnose infections or gum disorders.

Consult a doctor if you experience symptoms such as:

  • A long-lasting dry mouth.
  • Pain or difficulty when chewing or swallowing.
  • Toothache.
  • Mouth sores
  • Fever or tiredness
  • White tongue 

Symptoms of Halitosis (Bad Breath)

You may not be aware of how your breath smells. Therefore, you can check if you have halitosis by licking the wrist then letting it dry. If the area of the wrist causes an unpleasant odor, it may indicate that you have halitosis.

Aside from bad breath, halitosis can also be detected with the condition of your mouth. Dry oral condition is a symptom of halitosis. If you see a white coating on the surface of your tongue, this is also a symptom of halitosis. White tongue is caused by poor oral care. 

In addition to white tongue, some other symptoms that can indicate halitosis (bad breath) are toothache, mouth sores, dry mouth, pain when chewing or swallowing food, fever or fatigue.

Treatment for Halitosis (Bad Breath)

To identify the right way to deal with halitosis or bad breath, you should find the triggering factor first. 

If bad breath is caused by poor oral hygiene, you are recommended to get dental treatment. If possible, schedule for scaling appointments regularly.

You can also request for recommendations or prescriptions of special mouthwashes and toothpastes that freshens your breath from your dentist.

If bad breath is caused by the presence of other diseases, your dentist will likely refer you to the specialist doctor related to your health condition.

Treatment Cost for Halitosis (Bad Breath)

Treatment cost for halitosis are relatively affordable, but there will be additional costs if you have symptom of a more serious disease. For more details regarding the estimated treatment cost for halitosis, hospital recommendations, as well as making doctor’s appointments, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Halitosis (Bad Breath)

In addition to consulting a dentist, there are some simple and easy things you can do to prevent halitosis or bad breath, such as:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day

The ideal time to brush your teeth is in the morning after breakfast as well as at night before going to bed.

  • Change your toothbrush routinely 

After 3 to 4 months, replace your toothbrush. Toothbrushes can become a nest of bacteria from your mouth. If your toothbrush is damaged and uncomfortable to use before 3 to 4 months of use, have a new toothbrush. Poor toothbrush conditions will not clean your teeth thoroughly and lead to bad breath. 

  • Clean the surface of your tongue when brushing your teeth

Avoid rubbing the tongue too hard, or use a special tongue cleanser that has been designed so as to not hurt the tongue.

  • Floss your teeth

Flossing is useful for removing plaque and food waste left between the teeth. Use mouthwash to clean hard-to-reach areas. 

  • Pay attention to what you consume

Avoid consuming foods that can trigger bad breath. After consuming a type of food with strong aroma, drink plenty of water to rinse and neutralize the aroma.

  • Keep dentures clean

If you wear dentures, keep them clean and take off before you go to bed. This can prevent your dentures from being contaminated with saliva produced at night.

  • Make regular dental visits

Regular check-ups are important to maintain your oral hygiene. Do this once every 6 months.

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