What Is Bad Breath?
(halitosis, or oral malodor) is when an unpleasant odor emanates from the
What Causes Bad Breath?
can cause bad breath. Sometimes it’s the result of the foods you eat. Sometimes
it can be caused by something more serious like a disease.
of bad breath are caused by conditions in the mouth. Bad odor from the mouth
can be caused by:
- poor oral hygiene (This is the
most common cause of bad breath.)
- dental problems like gum disease,
cavities, and abscessed teeth
- certain foods and drinks like
garlic, onions, and coffee
- tobacco products
- dry mouth
- sinus conditions
- throat infections
- lung infections
- certain medications like insulin
injections, Paraldehyde, and Triamterene
- vitamin supplements
- a foreign body in the nose
(usually in children)
Some of the
diseases that can cause bad breath include:
- diabetic ketoacidosis, a
potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when you don’t have enough
insulin to process the sugars in your body
- some cancers
- gastroesophageal reflux disease
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- ozena, a disease that causes the
bony ridges and mucous membranes of the nose to deteriorate
- Zenker’s diverticulum, a rare
disease where a pouch forms at the back of the throat
of unpleasant breath odors may indicate certain health conditions.
Fruity Breath Odor
breath odor may indicate ketoacidosis. This is a serious condition. Call your
doctor immediately if your breath is persistently fruity.
Feces Breath Odor
smells like feces can be caused by prolonged vomiting, especially if you have a
blockage in the bowels. It can also be caused by a tube inserted through the
nose or mouth and into the stomach to empty the contents of the stomach.
Ammonia Breath Odor
smells like ammonia or urine or has a fish smell can be a sign of kidney
Who Is at Risk for Bad Breath?
factors can increase your risk of having bad breath, including:
- having poor oral hygiene
- smoking or chewing tobacco
- drinking alcohol
- eating pungent foods such as
garlic and onions
What Are the Symptoms of Bad Breath?
of bad breath is an unpleasant or foul odor coming from your mouth. It can be
difficult to assess the smell of your own breath. You may need to ask a friend,
family member, or doctor to tell you if your breath smells bad.
How Is Bad Breath Diagnosed?
will usually diagnose bad breath by smelling your breath. Your doctor may
perform exams or tests to diagnose the cause of your bad breath. Common exams
and tests include:
- dental exam to detect gum disease
or tooth decay
- physical examination of your
mouth and nose to check for abnormalities
- throat culture to detect bacteria
following tests may be done in rare cases:
- blood tests to diagnose
conditions such as kidney failure and diabetes
- esophagogastroduodenoscopy, where
a camera is inserted down your throat to examine the lining of the esophagus,
stomach and duodenum.
- X-rays of the abdomen or chest to
detect stomach or lung problems
How Is Bad Breath Treated?
treatment for bad breath depends on the cause of the unpleasant odor.
Treatments may include the following.
of bad breath can be treated at home. Home treatment consists of:
- practicing good hygiene by
brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue at least twice a day and flossing
your teeth at least once a day
- avoiding tobacco products
- avoding foods that have pungent
odors, such as garlic, onions, and coffee
- not drinking alcohol
- eat parsley and mint to
temporarily mask bad breath
dentist will treat any dental infections you have and clean your teeth to
remove plaque buildup. Infections may include cavities, abscesses, and gum
disease. Your dentist may also recommend a prescription antibacterial
toothpaste and mouthwash to reduce odor-causing bacteria in your mouth.
will treat any underlying medical conditions that are causing your bad breath.
of bad breath are temporary and go away with home treatment. The prognosis for
bad breath that is caused by underlying medical conditions varies according to
the disorder or disease.
certain things you can do to reduce your risk of getting bad breath. These
- practicing good oral hygiene
- visiting your dentist regularly
- avoiding tobacco products
- minimizing alcohol consumption
- avoiding foods and beverages that
cause bad breath
- drinking plenty of water
- eating plenty of fiber to avoid