Fresh Breath

Bad Breath (Halitosis) – What causes it?

Dietary Cause:
What you eat affects the air you exhale. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to bad breath odour. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, the odour is transferred to the lungs from where it is expelled. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash will only mask the odour temporarily. Odours continue until the body eliminates the food. Dieters may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating.

Poor Oral Hygiene:
If you don’t brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odour. Dentures that are not cleaned properly can also harbour odour-causing bacteria and food particles.

Periodontal (gum) Disease:
One of the warning signs of periodontal (gum) disease is persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.

Dry Mouth:
Bad breath is also caused by a dry mouth (xerostomia), which occurs when the flow of saliva decreases. Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that may cause odour.


Causes bad breath, stains teeth, reduces one’s ability to taste foods and irritates gum tissues. Smokers are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease and are at greater risk for developing oral cancer.

Medical Disorders:
Bad breath may be the sign of a medical disorder such as a local infection in the respiratory tract (nose, throat, windpipe, lungs), chronic sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment. If we determine that your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your family doctor or a specialist to determine the cause of bad breath.

What can I do about Bad Breath?

Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush your tongue too. Once a day, use floss or an interdental cleaner to clean between teeth. If you wear removable dentures take them out at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning.


Mouthwashes are generally cosmetic and do not have a long-lasting effect on bad breath. If you must constantly use a breath freshener to hide unpleasant mouth odour, make an appointment to see us. If you need extra help in controlling plaque we may recommend using a special antimicrobial mouth rinse.

A fluoride mouth rinse used along with brushing and flossing, can help prevent tooth decay.

Regular check-ups will allow us to detect any problems such as gum disease, a dry mouth or other disorders that may be the cause. Maintaining good oral hygiene, eliminating gum disease and scheduling regular professional cleanings are essential to reducing bad breath.