Halitosis or Bad Breath

December 1, 2020

Halitosis (bad breath) is mostly caused by sulphur-producing bacteria that normally live on the surface of the tongue and in the throat. Sometimes, these bacteria start to break down proteins at a very high rate and become odorous. Bad breath is a common problem that can cause significant psychological distress. There are a number of potential causes and treatments available.

What Causes Breath Odor?

Poor Dental Hygiene:

The combination of the bacteria and decaying food in your mouth produces an unpleasant odour. Brushing and flossing regularly removes trapped food before it decays.  

If bacteria is not removed, this substance can accumulate over time causing plaque build-up. Plaque build-up can cause cavities and periodontal disease. Bad breath also can be a problem if you wear dentures and don’t clean them every night.


Smoking cigarettes or cigars causes a bad odor and dries out your mouth, which can make your breath odor even worse. Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This can make smokers more susceptible to infections, such as gum disease. Since periodontal disease’s tend to impair blood flow to the gums – this may affect healing.  

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can also occur if you don’t produce enough saliva. Saliva helps keep your mouth clean and reduces odor. This can be caused by medicines, alcohol, stress or a medical condition.  

Symptoms of halitosis or bad breath

  • A white coating on the tongue especially at the back of the tongue
  • Dry mouth  
  • Thick saliva and a constant need to clear your throat
  • Build up around teeth
  • Post-nasal drip, or mucous
  • Morning bad breath and a burning tongue
  • Constant sour, bitter metallic taste.

The specific odor of breath can vary depending on the cause of the problem.  

When To See Your Dentist About Bad Breath

Be sure to see your dentist and hygiene therapist at least twice a year for regular dental assessments and hygiene treatments. Your dental hygienist can spot and treat bad breath causes such as gum disease.  

Ask your dentist about other potential solutions for halitosis. For example, for dry mouth, your dentist might recommend artificial saliva. Also talk to your dentist before buying any kits or products for controlling bad breath.

Treating halitosis

Treating halitosis can be achieved in a few different ways. If the breath odor is due to a build-up of plaque, treatment with a hygienist may be necessary. Your hygienist can assess the concern, and treat the build-up of calculus. Your hygienist can also give you lifetime advice and at home cleaning techniques to maintain a clean and healthy mouth.  

People with chronic sinusitis may find the regular use of a saline nasal spray helpful. A course of an antibiotic, effective against anaerobic bacteria (such as metronidazole, to reduce the overgrowth of sulphur-producing bacteria), may also help. Speak to your dentist, doctor or chemist to identify the cause of your halitosis and to find the most effective treatment for you.

How Can I Prevent Breath Odor?

Preventing breath odor can be simple if home care in conjunction with regular hygiene visits are made. You should make sure that you are brushing your teeth at least two times a day, and flossing regularly. Use antimicrobial mouthwash to kill bacteria and ensuring that you are keeping your tongue cleaning with either brushing with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper.  

Staying hydrated is important to prevent breath odor. Drink water to wash away any leftover food particles, along with keeping your mouth moist. Quitting smoking is important to help keep your mouth free of odor.  

There are several routines to keep your mouth healthy and odorless. Clean your dentures, mouth guards and retainers daily. It is important to replace your old toothbrush with a new one every 3 months.  

Don’t Forget!

Remember, hygiene visits are just as important as your regular dental assessments and should be scheduled at least twice a year. If you’d like to get yourself scheduled in with our hygiene therapist, click the link below!  


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