Bad Breath

Bad breath can be a real problem. But there is a solution…

Most people are unaware that they have a bad breath problem. In fact most people are in denial. But bad breath can cause big problems in personal relationships and hence your quality of life.

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Everybody faces this problem of bad breath at some time in their lives. But there are quite a lot of people for whom it becomes a daily problem. More than 50% Indians suffer from some form of bad breath related issue. Halitosis (It is a Latin word for ‘bad breath’) generally occurs after meals that have pungent constituents like garlic, onion, etc. which contribute to bad breath or when you wake up in the morning. Some other reasons why you may suffer from temporary halitosis can be drinks like Coffee and Alcohol and also tobacco smoking and they can also cause teeth to smell bad and emit a foul odour.

Do you know the causes of bad breath? And, that you can solve the problem with simple solutions?

The origin of bad breath can be inside or outside your mouth. Generally bad breath or a foul smell or odour is caused due to the presence of bacteria on the surface of your teeth and tongue. The tongue should be kept clean by using a tongue-scraper. Hence, it can be assumed very clearly that the primary cause of bad breath are issues like bad oral hygiene habits, unclean or unhygienic gums or dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition in which the glands in you mouth that generate saliva cannot secrete enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. Your dentist is your best friend atleast as far as the problem of bad breath is concerned. The dentist will do a complete dental check-up and will diagnose the cause of the bad breath and will help you solve the same successfully.

While most of the bad breath issues are due to bad oral hygiene and problems with your teeth, sometimes the cause could be Tonsils, infections with the respiratory system like sinus or bronchitis and in some cases even gastrointestinal problems. So sometimes there are general medical problems that can also contribute to bad breath.

Liver and Kidney diseases may also in severe cases cause bad breath or foul odour. Bad breath is also sometimes associated with uncontrolled diabetes. Hence, if there are symptoms or signs that you think you are able to see of experience in your body along with bad breath, it may be advisable to visit a general medical doctor or practitioner.

Some times people suffer from what is called “pseudo-halitosis”. This is a condition when you feel you have bad breath even when you are absolutely fine and your breath smells normal. Some people called Halitophobia or the fear of bad breath.

In such a case, you should consult a dentist and get reassurance so that you can be stress free.

The best way to avoid bad breath is to visit a dentist every six months for Dental Checkup. The dentist will examine every corner of your mouth and will be able to identify and diagnose any problems with your teeth or mouth. It is also necessary to get a professional dental cleaning and scaling every 6 months to ensure that all the residual plaque and tartar which your brush and floss could not clean is removed.

You should also brush atleast 2 times a day and floss regularly (if possible after every meal).

The following are some of the ideas or suggestions which can help in avoiding bad breath and maintain oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day and if possible, after meals using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft bristled toothbrush.
  • Stop smoking or chewing tobacco or any similar habit.
  • Use a mouthwash to keep your breath fresh.
  • Use a tongue scraper to remove debris from your tongue every day.
  • Drink a lot water and keep your mouth hydrated.
  • Avoid beverages like aerated drinks and alcohol.
  • Visit a dentist for a dental checkup every 6 months for a dental consultation and oral check-up and also get a scaling and cleaning every 6 months.

What causes chronic bad breath?

  • Breakdown of food particles in and around the teeth can cause a foul odour. Eating foods containing the oil is another source of bad breath. Onions and garlic are best-known examples but other vegetables and spices can also cause bad breath.
  • Regular habit of Smoking and consuming alcohol.
  • Certain dental problems which may cause bad breath include poor dental hygiene, infection of gums, infected extraction socket, debris under the bridge or denture and ulcers
  • In about 10% of bad breath cases the bad odour does not come from the mouth. Certain illnesses such as some cancers, metabolic disorders, can cause a distinctive breath odour due to the chemicals they produce. Diabetes, kidney and liver failure can lead to a fishy smell.

What is bad breath a symptom of?

There are possibilities that you may not always know that you have bad breath. But there are many reasons for bad breath. That’s because odour-detects cells in the nose eventually get used to the smell. Other people may notice and react by stepping away from you as you speak or by making a face. There are many reasons for bad breath, such are

  • Infections in the mouth – Symptoms depend on the type of infection. They can include:
    1. Red or swollen gums that may bleed easily, especially after brushing or flossing
    2. Pus between teeth or a pocket of pus (abscess) at the base of a tooth can cause bad breath
    3. Loose teeth or a change in how a denture fits
    4. Painful, open sores on the tongue or gums
  • Respiratory tract infections – Symptoms may include:
    1. Sore throat
    2. Swollen lymph nodes (swollen glands) in the neck
    3. Fever
    4. Stuffy nose
    5. Greenish or yellowish discharge from the nose
    6. A cough that produces mucus
  • Dry mouth– Symptoms may include:
    1. Difficulty swallowing dry foods
    2. Difficulty in speaking for a long time because of mouth dryness
    3. Burning in the mouth
    4. An unusually high number of cavities
    5. Dry eyes (in Sjogren’s syndrome)
  • Illnesses – Symptoms of diabetes, lung disease, kidney failure and liver disease can cause bad breath.

How do you check bad breath?

bad breath

A dentist or physician may notice bad breath during an office visit. Sometimes, the smell of the patient’s breath may suggest a likely cause for the problem. For example, “fruity” breath may be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes. A urine-like smell, especially in a person who is at high risk of kidney disease, can sometimes indicate kidney failure.

Your dentist will review your medical history for conditions that can cause bad breath and for medicines that can cause dry mouth. Your dentist also will ask you about your diet, personal habits (smoking, chewing tobacco) and any symptoms. He or she also will ask who noticed the bad breath and when.

Your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, mouth and salivary glands. He or she also will feel your head and neck and will evaluate your breath when you exhale from your nose and from your mouth.

Your dentist may refer you to your family physician if an illness is the most likely cause. In severe cases of gum disease, your dentist may suggest that you see a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in gum problems).

You will need diagnostic tests if the doctor suspects a lung infection, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease or Sjogren’s syndrome. The type of tests you get depends on the suspected illness. You may get blood tests, urine tests, X-rays of the chest or sinuses, or other tests.

Diagnosis and classification of halitosis

Type 1 – those who have it and know it

Type 2 – those who have it and deny it or don’t know it

Type 3 – those who don’t have it but think they do.

Expected Duration

How long bad breath lasts depends on its cause. For example, when the problem results from poor dental hygiene, proper dental care will begin to freshen the mouth right away. You’ll have even better results after a few days of regular brushing and flossing. Periodontal disease and tooth abscess also respond quickly to proper dental treatment. Bad breath caused by chronic sinusitis may keep coming back, especially if it is caused by a structural abnormality of the sinuses.

Bad breath that results from an illness may be a long-term problem. It often can be controlled with proper medical care.


Bad breath caused by dental problems can be prevented easily with proper care at home and professionally.

  • Brush your teeth, tongue, and gums after meals and floss daily. It is important if your bad breath is caused by dental problems.
  • If your dentist recommends it, rinse with a mouthwash
  • Visit the dentist regularly once in 6 months for treatment and teeth cleaning.
  • You can also start eating mints if recommended by the doctor.

How do I cure bad breath?

The treatment of bad breath depends on its cause.

Planning for your arrangement

In case, your dentist finds reasons for the bad breath, these tips can help:

  • Dental specialists for the most part lean toward morning arrangements for testing awful breath to diminish the odds that nourishments you eat during the day will frustrate the test.
  • Try not to wear fragrance, scented creams, or scented lipstick or lip gleam to your arrangement, as these items could cover any smells.
  • On the off chance that you’ve taken anti-infection agents inside the most recent month, check with your dental specialist to check whether your arrangement should be rescheduled.

When To Call a Professional?

Call your dentist promptly if you have bad breath with loose teeth or painful, swollen gums that bleed easily. Also, call your doctor if you have bad breath along with any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Discolored nasal discharge
  • Cough that produces mucus

Even if you have none of these symptoms, call your dentist if your bad breath continues despite a good diet and proper dental hygiene.

Results after the treatment

The outlook for fresh breath is usually excellent if you stick to your dentist’s from Sabka Dentist or physician’s treatment plan.

Expert's Opinion

  • Dr. Zita Antao Dental Director of Sabka dentist says “Plaque and tartar on your teeth could be one of the reasons for Bad Breath. Getting cleaning and scaling done every 6 months helps you to avoid forming of plaque and tartar which cause bad breath.”
  • Dr. Jena Shah Dental Director of Sabka dentist says “Bleeding gums or other gum disease can form odor-causing bacteria leading to Bad Breath. Deep cleaning can help to clean the gums and stop forming of odor-causing bacteria to avoid bad breath.”
  • Dr. Preethi Nagarajan Dental Director of Sabka dentist says “A dental check-up twice a year and professional dental cleaning can help to cure the causes of Bad breath leading to a better oral hygiene.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes halitosis?

The most common cause of bad breath is the presence of odor producing plaque biofilm on the back of the tongue, below the gum line, and in the pockets created by gum disease between teeth and the gums. Anaerobic bacteria flourish in this biofilm under coating of food debris, dead epithelial cells, etc. These bacteria cause breakdown of proteins in this biofilm into individual amino acids, which is followed by the further breakdown of certain amino acids to produce “rotten egg” smell of volatile sulfur compounds.

Approaches to improve bad breath may include physical or chemical means to decrease the bacterial count in the mouth. Maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing and use of antibacterial mouthwashes may help. If gum disease and cavities are present, it is recommended that these be treated.

How do I know if my breath smells bad?

Wipe the back of the tongue and sniff it. If it smells, then your breath smells. You may also see a yellow colored stain which is an indicator of higher than normal production of sulfide.

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