Bad Breath (Halitosis)

People are very self-conscious of bad breath, also known as halitosis. There are multiple causes of bad breath. With many commercial solutions to the problem, most of them mask yet do not treat the cause.


Some people are extremely self-conscious yet have little or no odor. Yet others may not be aware that they exhibit a malodor. It is best to ask a close friend or relative.


  • Food​. Certain foods, such as garlic, turmeric, and onions, can cause odors. The foods may affect immediately upon eating or later due to burping.

  •   Infections​. Bacteria from infections cause odors.

    • Mouth infections

      • After oral surgery

      • Gum disease

      • Deep tooth decay

    • Throat or respiratory infections

      • Sinus infections or postnasal drip

      • Tonsil stones

  • Poor Oral Hygiene

    • After a meal, food debris left in the mouth will decay and break down, releasing odor-causing compounds. It is essential to brush and floss after meals.

    • Bacteria accumulate, resulting in plaque buildup (clear sticky film). If not removed, this will harden to form calculus—plaque and plaque release sulfur compounds that create odor.

    • Gum disease results from bacteria destroying gum and bone around the tooth. The resulting pocket around the tooth traps food and bacteria. This warm moist environment is a haven for bacteria.

    • The tongue has fissures and crevices which trap food particles and bacteria. It is recommended to clean your tongue when brushing your teeth.

    • Dentures will accumulate an odor if not cleaned regularly.

  • Dry Mouth​ - saliva cleanses the teeth and gums, removing bacteria and food debris causing odors. Saliva flow decreases when sleeping; this is one of the causes of “morning breath.” Certain medical conditions (diabetes, sjögren’s syndrome) and medications will also cause dryness of the mouth.

  • Reflux​ - GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) will cause odors from the stomach and esophagus to surface. This brings acid and digested food particles up to the mouth and can cause more tooth decay, resulting in odors.


We encourage you to discuss with our knowledgeable team of dentists and hygienists at East Madison Dental to diagnose and treat the cause of bad breath. Depending upon the cause, the treatment recommendations may include:

  • Restorative treatment of decayed teeth
  • Deep cleaning to address gum disease
  • Home care regimen customized for your needs
  • Medications or therapeutics to address dry mouth
  • Consultation with your physician regarding medical conditions and medications
  • that may be affecting your oral health

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