General Dental Information

Bad Breath (Halitosis), Causes And Treatment

In our previous post, we talked about routine dental care and how to observe it. One of the consequences of failing to observe this is bad breath. In today’s post, we talk more about bad breath, its causes as well as the treatment for it.

Bad breath is always uncomfortable for the people around you and can also be very uncomfortable for the one who has it. It could even cause psychological trauma. While it is very easy to conclude that a person with bad breath did not brush their teeth, it could actually be because of something different altogether. According to a certain study, 85% of all the people who constantly have very bad breath have had or have an underlying dental condition. It could be as a result of conditions such as gum disease, cavities in the teeth, oral cancer bacteria in the tongue or even dry mouth.


Imagine this, one out of every four people in the world suffers from bad breath. This condition is also known as halitosis. It happens to be one of the most common conditions for which people seek treatment at a hospital after tooth decay and gum disease. The worst part is, you cannot get rid of it just by brushing your teeth, using a mouthwash or flossing. 

Causes of Bad Breath

You might be wondering what exactly causes this condition. Well, here are a few causes that you should know about:

Food particles left in between teeth


It is very normal for some food particles to remain in between one’s teeth after eating. Unfortunately, the food particles could cause bad breath. Some foods even become causes of halitosis after they have gone through the process of digestion.  What happens is that they are broken down into products that are carried into the lungs by the blood whereby they end up having an effect on a person’s breath. Examples of such are garlic and onion.



Tobacco products are known to cause gum disease which subsequently causes halitosis. Other than that they just generally cause bad breath whenever they are consumed.

Dry mouth


Saliva may look like one of those fluids that is automatically present in the mouth. Its importance is often overlooked. However, saliva goes a very long way in cleaning one’s mouth. It helps you in breaking down food, removing unwanted leftovers from your mouth and even helps in prevention of cavities and infections. Believe it or not, some people actually have a naturally dry mouth and others experience dryness as a result of conditions such as xerostomia or even some types of medication. This dry mouth state could cause a buildup of odors.



Some types of drugs are known to cause drying of the mouth. This is because they reduce the amount of saliva thus producing a strong unpleasant odor. Sometimes the odor is because when these drugs break down, they release some chemicals that have an effect on one’s breath for example tranquilizers like phenothiazine and taking large amounts of vitamins.

Poor dental hygiene


The importance of brushing and flossing of teeth is often emphasized. Failure to do these often will lead to food build up, slow breakdown and subsequently, bad odor.  When you do not brush your teeth regularly, a plaque builds up. This can irritate the gums as well.

Conditions of the mouth, nose and throat


When bacteria-covered stones are formed at the back of one’s throat, they could lead to halitosis. Other infections that affect the nose, throat and the sinuses as well as some types of inflammations cause halitosis.

Crash diets


You should be careful when you decide to go on a fasting or low carbohydrate diet. This is because when the fats are broken down they produce chemicals known as ketones that are known to produce a very strong smell. This could lead to halitosis.

Chronic diseases


Certain chronic conditions such as cancer, liver failure and others could lead to halitosis since they produce certain chemicals.

Treatment For Bad Breath

You may be asking yourself this question, can halitosis be treated?

While there are many causes of halitosis, most cases actually originate from the mouth. For this reason, the first steps of treatment involve reevaluation of your mouth hygiene, meaning your daily brushing and rinsing technique. While cleaning your teeth, it is very important to clean your tongue thoroughly as well since the tongue accommodates a lot of bacteria.

Other remedies include:

Flossing your teeth


When you floss your teeth, you reduce the amount of buildup of the particles of food and plaque from in between the teeth. It supplements brushing since brushing only gets rid of sixty percent of the

Cleaning dentures


You should make sure you thoroughly clean anything that goes into your mouth on a daily basis in order to prevent bacteria from building up and later transferring into your mouth. It is also for this reason that you should change your toothbrush after every two to three months. This will significantly help in the treatment of bad breath.

Maintain a proper diet


Garlic, spicy food, onions and sugary food are known to cause bad breath. Avoid taking too much coffee.

Avoid dry mouth


A dry mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. Therefore, it is advisable to drink plenty of water and avoid drinks that tend to leave the mouth dry. An examples of those drinks that have a dehydrating effect is alcohol. If you feel like your mouth is starting to dry up, you can chew gum or suck a sweet. If this is your option, then go for the sugar-free ones. They will definitely help stimulate saliva production. Some people have chronically dry mouths. For such people, it is important to see a doctor, who will prescribe medication that will stimulate the flow of saliva.

Get yourself a new toothbrush regularly


It may seem like something simple but this is often overlooked. A new toothbrush cleans your teeth and tongue better, thus aiding in treatment of bad breath. You should be keen to change it when it gets frayed. When buying a new one, choose a soft bristled one.

Schedule a visit to your dentist

In the event that you notice no improvement after observing the above, make it a point to visit a dentist. They will be able to do a proper diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment for you. If somehow the doctor does a thorough examination on you and it is determined that the source of your bad breath is not your mouth, they might refer you to a different kind of specialist. This is because it could be as a result of an underlying problem.

In case you have bad breath, contact or visit us here at Emerald Dental Surgery Nairobi. We are always ready to help in the treatment of bad breath. Call us today on 0700609078 or 0731609078 to start your treatment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *