Have you sat beside someone in the bus, train or taxi and you can’t hold a conversation because of the bad breath emanating from his or her mouth? Or you shy away from talking to other people and making friends because you are suffering from bad breath? Good news! This article will tell you what the problem is, what you have been doing to help the problem escalate and how to take care of the problem.

Halitosis is a foul-smelling breath, usually caused by the breakdown of food. Other culprits include poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, disease, infection, tobacco use and severe dieting.

More than 80 million people suffer from chronic halitosis, or chronic bad breath. In most cases it comes from the gums and tongue. The odor is caused by wastes from bacteria in the mouth, the decay of food particles, other debris in your mouth and poor oral hygiene. The decay and debris produce a sulfur compound that causes the unpleasant odor.


Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible causes that include: poor oral hygiene but can also be caused by retained food particles particles from stinky foods like garlic and onions or gum disease, respiratory infections, smoking, acid reflux, coated tongue (yellow or white coating on the tongue), dental cavities, malnutrition, uncontrolled diabetes, sore throat or sinusitis, heartburn, ulcer, smoking, etc.




Bad breath may also occur in people who have a medical infection, diabetes, kidney failure or a liver malfunction. Xerostomia (dry mouth) and tobacco also contribute to this problem. Cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy may experience dry mouth (as your saliva has anti-microbial effect). Even stress, dieting, snoring, age and hormonal changes can have an effect on your breath. An odor that comes from the back of your tongue may indicate postnasal drip. This is where mucus secretion, which comes from the nose and moves down your throat, gets stuck on the tongue and causes an odor.

In a much broader sense, halitosis or bad breath is caused by:

  • Food particles. Foods such as garlic, onion and other strong-smelling meal ingredients can leave particles behind in your mouth and on your tongue, resulting in an unpleasant post-lunch odor. Luckily, it’s easily treated and not a chronic cause of halitosis.
  • Dry mouth. Medications, smoking and mouth breathing can contribute to having a dry mouth. This lack of saliva means bacteria isn’t being rinsed out of the mouth as well as it should, and this can lead to bad breath. Occasional dry mouth is one thing, but your bad breath could become chronic as a side effect of daily smoking.
  • Dental problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, halitosis is often the result of gum disease and tooth decay. Dental issues can encourage bacteria to hide in cavities or pockets around the gums caused by conditions such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. Short-term breath freshening methods might mask the problem, but the smell can remain when the core issues go unchecked.
  • Medical issues. Some viruses and illnesses, particularly those that affect the sinuses, nasal passages and throat, can result in halitosis. Children with offensive breath might have a cold or sinus infection. The American Dental Association explains that halitosis (bad breath) can also be a sign of some liver and kidney diseases.


Saliva is the crucial ingredient in your mouth that helps keep the odor under control because it helps wash away food particles and bacteria which is the primary cause of bad breath. When you sleep, however, salivary glands slow down the production of saliva, allowing the bacteria to grow inside the mouth. To alleviate “morning mouth,” brush your teeth and eat a morning meal. Morning mouth also is associated with hunger or fasting. Those who skip breakfast, beware, because the odor may reappear even if you’ve brushed your teeth.



Very spicy foods, such as onions and garlic, and coffee may be detected on a person’s breath for up to 72 hours after digestion. Onions, for example, are absorbed by the stomach, and the odor is then excreted through the lungs. Studies have even shown that garlic rubbed on the soles of the feet can show up on the breath.



It is important to practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day. Proper brushing, including brushing the tongue, cheeks and the roof of the mouth, will remove bacteria and food particles. Flossing removes accumulated bacteria, plaque and food that may be trapped between teeth. To alleviate odors, clean your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper; a plastic tool that scrapes away bacteria that builds on the tongue. Chewing sugar-free gum also may help control odor. If you have dentures or a removable appliance, such as a retainer or mouthguard, clean the appliance thoroughly before placing it back in your mouth. Before you use mouthrinses, deodorizing sprays or tablets, talk with your dentist, because these products only mask the odor temporarily and some products work better than others.



  • Brush teeth twice a day and floss daily.
  • Use a tongue scraper to eliminate odor-causing bacteria on the tongue.
  • Visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups.
  • If you wear dentures, remove them at night and clean to get rid of bacterial buildup from food and drink.
  • Drink plenty of water and swish cool water around in your mouth. This is especially helpful to freshen “morning breath.”
  • Brush after every meal and floss, preferably twice a day.
  • Replace your toothbrush every two to three months.
  • Arrange regular dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Scrape your tongue each morning with a tongue scraper or spoon to decrease the bacteria, fungi, and dead cells that can cause odor. Hold the tip of the tongue with gauze to pull it forward in order to clean the back of the tongue.
  • Chew a handful of cloves, fennel seeds, or aniseeds. Their antiseptic qualities help fight halitosis-causing bacteria.
  • Chew a piece of lemon or orange rind for a mouth- freshening burst of flavor. (Wash the rind thoroughly first.) The citric acid will stimulate the salivary glands—and fight bad breath.
  • Chew a fresh sprig of parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro. The chlorophyll in these green plants neutralizes odors.
  • Try a 30-second mouthwash rinse that is alcohol-free (unlike many off-the-shelf products). Mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda (which changes the pH level and fights odor in the mouth) and a few drops of antimicrobial peppermint essential oil. Don’t swallow it!
  • Avoid foods that sour your breath.
  • Stop smoking. Apart from causing cancer, smoking can can stain your teeth, damage your gums and give you bad breath.
  • Skip after-dinner mints and chew sugar-free gums instead.
  • Drink plenty of water during the day to moisten your mouth.
  • If your bad breath still persists, see a dentist.


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