Bad breath is also known as 'halitosis'. 'Halitosis' comes from the Latin word 'halitus' which means breath. It can affect people of all ages. It is often worse first thing in a morning. Detecting bad breath can be difficult. It is often first mentioned by a dentist, friend or relative. In addition to the physical symptoms, bad breath can also cause emotional problems such as embarrassment, lack of confidence and low self-esteem.


  • Poor dental hygiene. Teeth need brushing and flossing regularly. Otherwise, food gets stuck in the mouth and bacteria can build up. When bacteria build up they can start to produce sulphur, which can lead to bad breathStrong foods - especially garlic, onions, spices and alcoholSmoking - stale tobacco can linger on the breath and cause bad breathDental problems - tooth decay, gum disease and abscessesMedical conditions - especially those affecting the chest, throat, nose, sinuses, lungs, digestive system, kidney or liver
  • Dry mouth - people who sleep with their mouths open are more likely to suffer from bad breath. This is because the mouth becomes dry overnight which can cause bad breath

Avoiding Bad Breath

  • Brush your teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste, preferably after meals and last thing at night
  • Floss your teeth daily
  • If you wear false teeth, clean them thoroughly every day
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can cause bad breath, gum disease and oral cancer
  • Avoid strong smelling foods
  • Change your toothbrush regularly
  • As a short term remedy, try using sugar-free chewing gum


If preventative measures fail, your dentist may recommend an antibacterial toothpaste or an antiseptic mouthwash to help to kill bacteria.

When To See A Dentist

It is very important to visit your dentist regularly for routine check-ups. Report any pain, signs of inflammation or decay to your dentist.

Additional Information

For more information about oral care, contact the British Dental Health Foundation on 01788 546365. Website address: