Home > ORAL HEALTH > Dental Problems > Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bad Breath (Halitosis)


What is bad breath?

Bad breath is unpleasant mouth odour which may occur as a result of foods consumed or from certain medical conditions. Most people suffer from bad breath occasionally. It is a very personal and embarrassing condition. To tell a friend about her/him having bad breath is a big step. Some people may appreciate if somebody else is telling them about their bad breath whereas for others, it will lead to a lack of self confidence and social isolation. In case that it becomes persistent, you should consult your dentist. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the condition so that the sources of the problems can be managed.

Bad breath may originate from :

  • Mouth
    • Poor oral hygiene
    • Tooth decay (dental caries)
    • Gum (periodontal) disease
    • Food stagnation in between teeth
    • Unclean dentures
    • Morning breath
    • Dry mouth
    • Mouth breathing
  • Certain types of food:
    • Onions
    • Garlic
    • Coffee
    • Tobacco
    • Alcohol
  • Certain medical conditions:
    • Diabetes
    • Liver disease
    • Sinusitis or throat infection
    • Lung infection
    • Diseases of the alimentary tract (oesophagus and stomach)

What can you do to avoid bad breath?

The following may be helpful to eliminate bad breath.

  • Oral hygiene care :
    • Maintain a high level of oral hygiene :
      • Effective tooth brushing, flossing, and mouthrinses.
      • Clean your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper.
    • If you wear braces or dentures – clean the appliance thoroughly before placing it back in your mouth.
    • Go for regular dental check-ups.
  • Attention to diet :
    • Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid too much coffee.
    • Eat plenty of fresh, and fibrous vegetables.
    • Chew sugar- free gum, cloves or mint.
  • Avoid unhealthy habits of smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Get treatment for any gum disease or tooth decay.

Bad breath & mouthrinses

Mouthrinses may mask bad breath without treating the underlying problems.

Last reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Azillah bt. Mohd Ali
    Dr. Che Noor Aini bt. Che Omar
    Dr. Sharol Lail b. Sujak
    Dr. Chew Yoke Yuen
    Dr. Norrizan bt. Basir
    Dr. Doreyat b. Jemun
Reviewer : Dr. Siti Zaleha bt. Hamzah