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Bad Breath – Why & What To Do.

October 8, 2019

Sad Fact! Bad breath can affect your career (?) and relationships – Oluwafisayomi Aturamu exposes why you have bad breath and 12 proven ways to overcome it.


But first – some background.

The medical term for mouth odour is halitosis and it is an extremely common condition.

Having mouth odour or bad breath can be demoralizing for an individual as it is a subject that most people do not know how to bring up.

Although most people might not know that they have bad breath, unfortunately, others might notice.

(Learn how to check for bad breath here.)

This could cause embarrassing moments, as, people tend to naturally prefer to maintain a certain level of distance away from such individuals while holding conversations or even avoid talking to them.

Some common things associated with mouth odour include a dry mouth, funny taste in the mouth or a change in nature/smell of saliva.

The Smelly Stuff:

The following are common causes of bad breath:

  • Bad oral hygiene.
  • Diet.
  • Dry mouth from lack of fluids.
  • Medical conditions like diabetes mellitus and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  • Smoking.
  • Alcohol.
  • Infections of the respiratory tract or mouth.
  • Dentures or other dental appliances.[1]

Prevent mouth odour

The Good Stuff

How do I get rid of my mouth odour?

  1. Good Oral Hygiene: It is essential that you brush your teeth at least twice a day to maintain good oral hygiene.
  2. Do not neglect the tongue.
    • By using a tongue scrapper or toothbrush, you can keep the tongue clean and fresh.
    • Care of the tongue is very crucial in maintaining good oral hygiene.
    • This is because the tongue surface has been found to be a major contributor to bad breath from food remnants and other particles trapped on the tongue’s rough surface.[1]
    • You could also floss daily with dental floss to remove any food particles that might be stuck between the teeth.
  3. Always use fluoride-containing toothpastes.
  4. You can also use antibacterial mouthwashes.
    • Mouthwashes do not replace a regular oral hygiene routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing.
    • Make sure you swish the mouthwash for at least 30seconds to 1 minute before spitting out.
  5. Remember to change your toothbrush regularly.[2]
  6. This is also important – you should also visit a dentist every six months to avoid dental caries and cavities.
    • In addition, if you suspect you have a throat infection like tonsillitis – see a doctor to get yourself checked.
    • People with simple colds, blocked sinuses etc are prone to bad breath, too. Steam inhalation may help decongest the airways and reduce the bad smells.
  7. Drink plenty of water: If you have a dry mouth, you will have bad breath; therefore, stay hydrated.
  8. Where you can, avoid eating foods with strong odour.
    • Examples are – foods containing garlic and onions, strong spices, cheese, fish or coffee.
    • Brush immediately after eating such meals or get a minty chewing gum.[2]
    • When you cannot brush after eating meals containing garlic, you could take a drink with a high fat content such as milk as this would help mask the odour of garlic on your breath; [3] till you can get to a toothbrush!
  9. Quit smoking [2]
    • Smoking can cause gum disease and several other oral problems including bad breath and teeth discolouration.
  10. Avoiding alcohol (including mouthwashes that contain alcohol) would help reduce bad breath.
    • This is because alcohol dries up the mouth and predisposes to dental diseases.[4]
  11. Eating certain fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots help increase saliva production and curb bad breath.[5]
  12. Drinking green tea has also been shown to help by reducing mouth odour caused by oral bacteria.[6]


While some of these lifestyle changes can help get rid of bad breath, it is important that you visit your dentist every 6 months to ensure good oral hygiene.

In many cases, people with bad breath are unaware of the fact and might not realize it except a good friend (or possibly worse) a stranger; brings their attention to it.

Start practising these tips – and check out this post for a range of oral hygiene products to save yourself from embarrassment.

Read More:


  1. Curd Bollen, 2016. Myths About Halitosis. Journal of Dental Health, Oral Disorders & Therapy. [pdf] Volume 5 Issue 2.
  2. Sagunthala Ettikan, 2014. Bad Breath. Journal of Dental and Medial Sciences.
  3. Areerat Hansanugrum  Sheryl A. Barringer, 2010. Journal of Food Science.
  4. Brandilyn A. Peters, Eric J. Jacobs, Xiaozhou Fan et al, 2018.
  5. Foods That Mask Bad Breath.
  6. Hunny Sharma, Monika, Yunus G.Y., 2015. An Insight into Halitosis.

Editing By AskAwayHealth


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly through

Image Credits – Canva

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