Bad breath is a common problem that can cause significant mental stress due to the anxiety and embarrassment that comes with it. Bad mouth odor is medically known as halitosis. It is not just a condition to be ignored as it could be a source of concern to those who live close or work with us. There are however many causes of halitosis. Nevertheless, the treatment is usually easy to commence.

Causes of halitosis

The causes of halitosis include one or more of the following:

  • Poor oral hygiene: This situation accounts for most cases of halitosis. This situation typically arises from build up of bacteria in the oral as a result of gum disease, infected dentures, bits of rotten foods, or improper brushing of the teeth and so on.
  • Dry mouth: saliva is a natural cleaner for the mouth. However, if the mouth gets too dry, it gives room for mouth odor to build up.
  • Diet: food and drinks such as high-protein or low-carbohydrate diets, onions, garlic, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco can cause halitosis. The breakdown products of these foods and drink may consequently increase the chances of mouth odor. This is because they are not usually digested.
  • Medical condition: Some certain conditions such as diabetes (due fluctuating blood sugar levels) and some upper respiratory tract infections (due to mucus buildup) can be responsible for mouth odor. Nonetheless, other rare conditions include certain cancers, kidney or liver diseases, bowel obstruction, aspiration pneumonia and so on.
  • Medications: some drugs can produce odors as they breakdown and release chemicals in the breath. Examples include large doses of vitamin supplements, chemotherapy chemicals and drugs that contain nitrates.
  • Foreign body: if there is a foreign body lodged in the nasal cavity, it could cause mouth odor. This is common among toddlers for instance.

Symptoms of Halitosis

  • Complain from people around you about bad odor coming from the mouth
  • A bad smell on the wrist after breathing onto it is likely to suggest that you have halitosis.
  • A white coating on the tongue especially at the back of the tongue.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Post-nasal drip, or mucous.
  • Morning bad breath and a burning tongue.
  • Thick saliva and a constant need to clear your throat.
  • Constant sour, bitter metallic taste.
  • Halitophobia: the fear of having bad mouth odor characterized by obsessive mouth cleansing.


Dentists have a number of advanced dental equipment that can detect and rate more precisely. Such devices include:

  • An halimeter: is used to detect low levels of Sulphur in the mouth
  • Gas chromatography: detects and grades levels of hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, and dimethyl sulfide.
  • BANA test: is used to measure the amount of certain enzyme produced by halitosis-causing bacteria.
  • Beta-galactosidase test: Levels of the enzyme beta-galactosidase have been found to correlate with mouth odor.

Prevention and treatments of Bad breath

  • Brush the teeth twice, preferably after meal
  • Make flossing a habit.
  • Clean dentures and mouthguards on a daily basis
  • Toothbrush should be changed every 2-3 months
  • A tongue scraper may be recommended for smokers as more dead cells build up on the tongue
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco. They also inhibit the production of saliva.
  • Chew sugar-free mint to help stimulate the production of saliva. If the mouth is chronically dry, pls consult your dentist.
  • Avoid over-eating too much spices such as onion and garlic
  • If all the listed measures are not effective, please visit a doctor to rule out other medical conditions.

You can however consult with a doctor today at eDokita . eDokita is a health technology organization that provides health services to you at your own convenience. Download eDokita app today andconsult with a doctor at your convenience.

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