Bad Breath by Dr. Bhavik Patel

Bad breath/foul breath or halitosis is a condition which is faced by many people in various phases of their life. It is often considered a social stigma and often bad breath is related to poor social relations with friends and family.



But what are the causes of ‘Bad Breath’?

Bad breath or Halitosis can be caused due to a variety of reasons which can be broadly divided as –
  • Intra-oral causes

  • Systemic causes

  • Dietary causes

Intra-oral causes

Factors which commonly affect the breath orally are:
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Dental Caries
  • Intraoral abscess

Systemic causes

Some systemic diseases/conditions which can cause halitosis are
  • Chronic Sinusitis
  • Lung infections
  • Gastrointestinal Infections/disturbances
  • Throat infections
  • Lung infections
  • Diabetes

Dietary causes

Some food items we eat often triggers foul breath, this is due to the chemical composition of the food item. Some common food items known to cause halitosis are-
  • Onion
  • Garlic

How to prevent bad breath



First step towards prevention of bad breath is to maintain a good oral hygiene. According to American Dental Association’s guidelines, tooth brushing is recommended twice a day with interdental cleaning aid like flossing once a day, but cleaning the tongue is equally important specially the posterior part of the tongue.


Correct technique of brushing can be seen in this video.





Regular visit to your dentist is recommended every 6 months to make sure any condition is diagnosed at the earliest.
Eating healthy food items and avoiding food like onions and garlic which causes bad breath.






Not smoking tobacco can also help to prevent bad breath caused due to tobacco smoking.

How can a dentist help in treatment of your bad breath?





A dentist/dental surgeon diagnoses any intraoral condition you might have and will treat it, sometimes a systemic condition is also diagnosed because of the specific foul smell related to some pathologies, therefore visiting a dentist is the first thing you should do to make sure your condition is diagnosed and treated properly.


Treatment for bad breath



Most common cause of bad breath is the poor oral hygiene, this leads to deposition of plaque and calculus/tartar on the teeth and also causes dental caries, this leads to accumulation of bacteria which releases foul-smelling chemicals.
Therefore the common treatment options for bad breath caused by poor oral hygiene –




  • Oral Prophylaxis
  • Restoration of dental caries
  • Incision and drainage of any intraoral abscess
For systemic diseases the dental surgeon will refer you to your physician for proper treatment of the disease.
Avoiding foods which cause bad breath should be avoided and post-operative oral hygiene maintenance should be done properly.
Dentist can also prescribe an antibacterial/antifungal mouth was to rinse the mouth before and/or after the treatment depending upon the condition of the patient.





Bad breath is a condition which is easily preventable and manageable but one should be involved in healthy oral hygiene practice along with regular dental check up from a registered dentist.
If someone is already suffering from this condition, he/she can visit their dentist immediately to get a proper examination done, a treatment plan will be given by the dentist which should be followed and instructions from the dentist should be always followed strictly to make sure the condition is treated at the earliest.






Dr. Bhavik Patel

About the author: Dr Patel did his BDS from India and with aim towards providing better healthcare to the community is currently volunteering in Alabama, USA.

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