Bad Breath – Halitosis


Halitosis is the medical name for chronic bad breath. Most people have occasional bad breath in the morning, after eating strong foods or skipping tooth brushing, which can be easily solved through use of mouthwashes, mints and adequate oral hygiene. However, these solutions do not always improve halitosis.

Around half of the American adult population claim to suffer from this oral condition, which can cause social embarrassment.



There are several causes for halitosis, including local, general and lifestyle factors.

Bacteria: in the mouth, bacteria have the perfect conditions to thrive and, if not removed with tooth brushing and flossing, they build up to form complex communities, called dental plaque or biofilm. When they grow undisturbed, production of gases and toxic compounds can cause halitosis. The tongue needs special attention, since the furrows and the back part can house halitosis causing bacteria.

Gum disease: is linked to several types of bacteria, which build up and hide between the gums and teeth.

Infections: sinus, throat and nose infections can also help harbour halitosis causing bacteria, as well yeast infections in the mouth.

Dry mouth: saliva has several functions, including removal of food leftovers, cleaning of tooth surfaces and soft tissues. If production of saliva is low, the mouth becomes dry and more prone to halitosis and other conditions. Certain medications and diseases, alcohol, smoking and caffeine can lead to dry mouth.

Smoking: tobacco products can leave odour in the mouth. They can also worsen halitosis indirectly, by increasing the risk for dry mouth and gum disease.

General conditions: persistent bad breath can result from gastric and digestive problems, respiratory problems, diabetes, kidney or liver disease.

Dental problems: tooth decay can result in halitosis, since bacteria can easily hide in cavities despite good oral hygiene. Broken teeth, broken or falty fillings and crowns, wisdom teeth, dentures, as well as a bad bite can cause bad breath.



A bad bite can be the culprit regarding many problems in the mouth and in the head and neck area. Since most people have some kind of bite issue, this should definitely receive more attention from dentists, physicians and health professionals. A bad bite includes any deviation from a normal, balanced and functional bite.

All bite problems that make cleaning challenging can predispose to bad breath. Crowded, tilted, rotated and misaligned teeth are difficult to brush and floss, facilitating accumulation of food particles and bacteria.

Another situation that can lead to bad breath is mouth breathing. Narrow arches and general lack of space in the mouth are common oral problems that make nose breathing more difficult, triggering the person to breathe through the mouth to increase inflow of oxygen.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can lead to mouth breathing, and it is usually linked to lack of space for the tongue. People with this condition usually snore and their breathing is interrupted several times during sleep, which typically results in partial mouth breathing.

In general, mouth breathing makes the mouth dry, leading to bacterial accumulation and bad breath.



Eating food that has strong flavour and odour, such as garlic, onions and other spices, can lead to temporary halitosis, which usually disappears after their digestion is complete. It does not require any treatment.

Good oral hygiene is the simplest way to avoid halitosis. Tooth brushing and flossing are very important to remove bacteria from all tooth surfaces and tongue. Changing toothbrush every 2-3 months is also recommended. Dentures and removable oral appliances also need to be cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis.

Use of mouthwashes can help improve halitosis to a certain degree, however, it can never substitute oral hygiene measures.

If halitosis is caused by inflammation in the gums, it is necessary to undergo gum disease treatment. It is also important to address bite and tooth alignment issues, since they can make gum disease worse. Areas with crowding, tilting and other forms of misalignment are very difficult to be cleaned, thus they can harbour bacteria and lead to bad breath and gum disease. Thus, correction of such bite issues through orthodontic treatment can prevent bad breath, gum disease and other chronic problems involving migrianes, headaches, bad posture, head. neck and back pain.

Cutting on smoking, alcohol and caffeine can improve saliva flow, leading to a fresher breath.
Sticking to a healthy diet and drinking enough water can help digestion, thus improving halitosis.



Persistent bad breath can be a nightmare and destroy relationships. For many patients with a bad bite, the problem never disappears completely until teeth and bite are corrected. In these cases, orthodontic treatment is needed to adjust the misalignments and get rid of the food and bacteria traps. As the bite improves, the smile also gets prettier, chewing muscles relax, tension in the jaw joint improves, leading to a series of benefits for the whole body.

Clear aligner therapy, such as Invisalign, has made orthodontic treatment a lot easier for adults. These plastic devices offer a convenient solution that does not affect cosmetics, since they are transparent and removable.

If your bad breath never goes away, talk to your dentist or orthodontist, a bad bite could be the cause.

Read more about halitosis.