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What is Halitosis?

Halitosis, often referred to as bad breath, is a widespread concern that can have significant personal and social implications. Many individuals may remain unaware of their condition until it is brought to their attention by a close friend or associate.

Bad breath can affect anyone and is frequently encountered, particularly in the morning upon waking. For some, however, it can become a persistent issue, leading to a decline in self-esteem and confidence.

It is essential to recognize that bad breath, or halitosis, is frequently amenable to improvement through enhanced daily oral hygiene practices and lifestyle adjustments.

If these measures do not alleviate the problem, seeking advice from a healthcare professional is a prudent course of action. Persistent bad breath may be indicative of an underlying health concern that requires professional attention.


Causes of Bad Breath

The causes of bad breath are multifaceted and can be attributed to various factors, including oral hygiene, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions.

Understanding these underlying factors is crucial for effective prevention and management. Some key considerations include:


Oral Hygiene

Poor Oral Hygiene

Inadequate oral hygiene, characterized by irregular brushing and flossing, can lead to the accumulation of dental plaque. This plaque can contribute to periodontal diseases and, subsequently, bad breath.


Dry Mouth

Reduced salivary flow resulting in a dry mouth can also give rise to bad breath.

Saliva plays a pivotal role in cleansing the mouth, and its diminished production can lead to the accumulation of dead cells on the tongue, gums, and cheeks, eventually leading to unpleasant odours.


Denture Hygiene

The maintenance of dentures is essential. Ill-fitting or unhygienic dentures, especially when worn during sleep, can be a contributing factor to bad breath.


Lifestyle Choices


Smoking not only imparts a persistent nicotine odour to the breath but also contributes to dry mouth, creating an environment conducive to the proliferation of odour-causing bacteria.

Smokers also face an elevated risk of gum disease, a recognized cause of bad breath.


Dietary Factors

Certain foods, particularly those with strong flavours such as garlic and onions, can lead to temporary bad breath. Additionally, the consumption of sugary foods provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria that produce foul-smelling gases.


Medical Factors

Certain Medical Conditions

Various medical conditions, including diabetes, heartburn (acid reflux), sinusitis, and tonsillitis, can contribute to bad breath. Addressing these underlying health issues is essential.


Other Considerations

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can arise from multiple factors, including dehydration, specific medical conditions like stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and mumps, as well as treatments like radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, certain medications, and recreational drug use.



Engaging in crash diets or fasting can produce a unique, sweet odour on the breath due to the presence of ketones resulting from the breakdown of body fat.


Preventing Bad Breath

Preventing bad breath is achievable through a combination of effective

strategies. These include:


1) Prioritize Daily Oral Hygiene

  • Brush your teeth thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste in the morning, before bedtime, and ideally after meals. Proper brushing removes food particles and plaque, two primary culprits of bad breath.
  • Incorporate interdental cleaning, such as flossing, to remove debris from hard-to-reach areas between your teeth.
  • For denture wearers, ensure proper cleaning and remove dentures before sleeping to prevent odours.


2) Abstain from Smoking

Quitting smoking not only yields numerous health benefits but can significantly improve breath quality.

Smoking contributes to dry mouth, fostering the growth of odour-causing bacteria. Seek support or alternatives to facilitate smoking cessation.


3) Maintain Hydration

Consume an adequate amount of water throughout the day to maintain mouth moisture, making it less conducive for odour-causing bacteria to thrive.


4) Monitor Your Diet

Be mindful of your dietary choices and reduce the consumption of strong-smelling foods like onions and garlic. A balanced diet rich in various nutrients supports overall health and can positively impact breath freshness.


5) Tongue Cleaning

Incorporate tongue cleaning into your oral care routine. Use a tongue scraper or your toothbrush to gently remove bacteria and food particles contributing to bad breath.


6) Regular Dental Checkups

Schedule routine dental checkups with your dentist. These visits are instrumental in detecting and addressing any underlying dental issues contributing to bad breath.


Connect with Us for Specialized Care

If persistent bad breath persists despite following preventive measures, consider the possibility of an underlying medical condition, such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

We invite you to reach out to us at RICHMOND GASTROENTEROLOGY CENTRE for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized guidance. As a specialized gastroenterologist, Dr. John Hsiang is dedicated to addressing your concerns and providing tailored solutions to help you improve your overall well-being.

Schedule an appointment with us today.


Disclaimer Notice

The content on this website, including text, graphics, images, and information, is meant for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. RICHMOND ENDOSCOPY AND GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS PTE. LTD takes no responsibility if the information on this website is used without consulting one of its specialists.