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What is Halitosis?

Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is unpleasant or foul-smelling breath and may be a result of various conditions. Halitosis is most commonly associated with poor oral hygiene (lack of proper brushing, flossing, tongue cleaning) but may also be a result of undiagnosed oral health issues or even systemic health issues.
Bad breath is embarrassing and often causes those who suffer from it social distress and may also impact personal relationships. Anyone can suffer from halitosis and it’s common that those that do suffer from halitosis may not even be aware of it unless someone else brings it their attention (such as a spouse, friend or oral health professional).

 What Causes Bad Breath (Halitosis)?

Most Common Causes:

  • Poor oral hygiene – Infrequent or improper brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning
  • Xerostomia (Dry Mouth) – often caused by medications, mouth breathing, and salivary gland issues
  • Oral Infections (cavities, Periodontal disease)
  • External sources (smoking, coffee, garlic, onions etc)

Less Common Causes:

  • Tonsil stones
  • Respiratory tract infections (throat, sinus or lung infections)
  • Illness (Kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, acid reflux, etc)

How to Treat and Prevent Halitosis?

A great place to start is by maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine at home! This includes (but is not limited to):
  • Brushing at least twice a day (or for best results after meals)
  • Flossing to remove food and plaque from in-between the teeth and below the gum line (our toothbrushes can’t reach in there)
  • Using a tongue scraper to remove smelly build up plaque bacteria from the surface of your tongue.
  • Using a mouthwash (Recommended and supported by your oral health professional)
Avoid dry mouth. Drink lots of water to cleanse and promote saliva production!
Avoid tobacco products. They contribute to bad breath and increase the risk of gum disease
Avoid alcohol as it dehydrates the mouth and causes dry mouth
Be aware of the foods or drink you consume such as garlic, onions, and coffee. These all contribute to bad breath


It’s important to visit your dentist at least twice a year for regular dental exams and professional cleanings to help diagnose and prevent any potential problems that may be contributing to bad breath (such as gum disease or cavities). Always follow up with your family doctor regarding your general health and do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  If you’re concerned with the freshness of your breath or curious to know any further information regarding what causes bad breath or the conditions listed above, contact us today! Our experienced Newmarket dentists and trained staff will be happy to answer all of your questions!


(1) Halitosis Article | Bad Breath & Halitosis | Colgate® Oral Care Information  Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/bad-breath/halitosis
(2) Newman, T. (2016, March 15). What Causes Bad Breath (Halitosis): Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/166636.php