Does your mouth stink?

Last updated Apr 15, 2024

Last updated Apr 15, 2024

Do you face an awkward situation when your mouth stinks? This article will help you with the science of bad breath, its causes, and how you can overcome bad breath.


What is Halitosis?

Halitosis is a medical condition that is caused by volatile compounds such as sulfur, nitrogen, ketones, alcohols, aliphatic compounds, etc. These compounds are the waste products of bacteria present in the mouth. It is estimated that 1 out of 4 general population experience bad breath. Let us have a look at the causes behind halitosis.


Poor Oral Hygiene: The most common cause of having bad breath is presence of plaque and calculus (tartar) on the surfaces of the teeth leading to poor oral hygiene. Food debris which gets stuck in the gaps of our teeth multiplies the bacteria which produces unpleasant smelly gas.

Dehydration: It causes dry mouth. A dry mouth activates the effect of bacteria in the mouth and causes gum disease, by which a bad odor can build up.

Food and Drink: Eating spicy food and strongly flavored food such as garlic and onion produce a pungent smell.

Consumption of Alcohol: An uncontrolled consumption of alcohol leads to dryness of mouth, leading to the growth of smell producing bacteria.

Tobacco: Tobacco is a substance that produces its own unpleasant smell. Smoking, chewing tobacco can again cause dryness.

Medications: The chemical reactions of certain medicines such as tranquilizers, nitrates can lead to bad breath.

Other Medical conditions: Other medical conditions such as diabetes, pneumonia, sinusitis, bronchitis, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease are associated with bad breath.

Crash dieting: Fasting and starvation is one possible cause for bad breath. The breakdown of fat cells produces the chemicals called ketone which produce bad smell.

Preventive measures to avoid bad breath

1. Cleaning your teeth: Brushing your teeth twice and flossing once a day using proper technique or as recommended by your dentist will help you to maintain your oral hygiene.

2. Night time brushing: Night time brushing can reduce bad breath by 50%.

3. Using a tongue cleaner: use a tongue cleaner to clean your tongue as most of the bacteria reside on it.

4. Cleaning your dentures: One should not use a toothpaste while cleaning your dentures. Use a mild soap and lukewarm water and keep it in a clean and dry case.

5. Stay Hydrated: Water washes away the bacteria in your mouth and keeps your mouth moist.

6.  Quit smoking and give up the consumption of alcohol.

7. Cut down the intake of strongly flavored foods and caffeine.

8. Visit your dentist at regular intervals and your physician for well systemic health.


  • Bad breath is also called halitosis.
  • Brushing in the morning as well as at night along with flossing and regular tongue cleaning can reduce your bad breath by 80%.
  • Halitosis to some extent is normal. But its needs some care if others notice it too.
  • The main cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene.
  • The key to getting rid of your bad breath is getting a teeth cleaning done every 6 months.

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scanO (formerly DentalDost)

Stay Informed, Smile On!

Author Bio: Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali is the Co-Founder and Chief Dental Surgeon at scanO (formerly DentalDost). A recipient of the Pierre Fauchard International Merit Award, she is a holistic dentist who believes that everyone should have access to oral healthcare, irrespective of class and geography. She strongly believes that tele-dentistry is the way to achieve that. Dr. Vidhi has also spoken at various dental colleges, addressing the dental fraternity about dental services and innovations. She is a keen researcher and has published various papers on recent advances in dentistry.

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