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Today in Health & Wellness

Bad Breath

Risk Factors
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult

Bad breath or halitosis is characterized by bothersome, recurrent, or persistent malodorous breath. It is commonly caused by food that one ingests. During sleep, bacteria acting on food particles left in the mouth can cause bad breath in the morning.


Some characteristic examples include of bad breath fruity odor (sign of ketoacidosis in diabetes), fecal odor (occurs with bowel obstruction), and ammonia-like odor (in chronic kidney failure). Halitosis can also cause anxiety in sufferers. However, many sufferers are not aware of their problem.

Risk Factors
  • Gum or dental disease; poor dental and oral hygiene
  • Habitual breathing through the mouth
  • Low-calorie diets; fasting (may cause "hunger breath")
  • Food like garlic, onion, cheese, tuna, coffee, beer, wine and whiskey
  • Mouth, throat, nose, and sinus infections like tonsillitis, oral thrush, rhinosinusitis; major disease states: liver diseases, pneumonia, lung abscess, tuberculosis, pneumonia, diabetes, gastritis, chronic kidney disease; bowel obstruction with prolonged vomiting
  • Drugs like antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants, hypertension drugs, etc.
  • Smoking
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
  • Brush teeth at least twice daily. Be sure to brush along the gum line, as well as all tooth surfaces.
  • Use a tongue cleaner and clean right to the back of the tongue.
  • Floss teeth at least once a day to remove food from between the teeth.
  • Avoid using tobacco products.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or drink water to keep saliva production going.
  • Dentures: Brush the dentures and soak them overnight in a disinfecting solution.
  • Have teeth cleaned at least twice a year by a dentist.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, avoiding too much coffee and alcohol.
  • Eat plenty of fresh, fibrous vegetables.
  • Use a mouthwash as recommended by a health professional.
  • See a doctor for persistent bad breath.
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