John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Bad breath, or halitosis, is
characterized by an unpleasant odor of the mouth.
Causes of bad breath include food,
tobacco products, poor dental hygiene, health problems, dry mouth, mouth
infections, dental problems, or medications.
Symptoms of bad breath include
unpleasant odor or taste in the mouth, dry mouth, or white coating on the
Treatments for bad breath include
proper dental hygiene, mouthwash, sugar-free gum,
quitting smoking, and changing
Bad breath can usually be prevented by
proper tooth brushing, quitting smoking, and avoiding foods that cause bad breath
What is the definition of bad breath?
The definition of bad breath, or halitosis, is an unpleasant odor of the
mouth. It can occur on occasion, or it can be a chronic condition. It may be
caused by foods a person eats, poor oral hygiene, medical conditions, or other
There are many causes for bad breath; some common causes are listed below.
Food: Food is a primary source of bad
odors that come from the mouth. Some foods, such as garlic, onions, and spicy
foods, exotic spices (such as curry), some cheeses, fish, and acidic beverages
such as coffee can leave a lingering smell. Most of the time this is short term.
Other foods may get stuck in the teeth, promoting the growth of bacteria, which
causes bad breath odor. Low carbohydrate diets may also cause "ketone
breath." These diets cause the body to burn fat as its energy source. The
end-product of making this energy is ketones, which cause a fruity acetone-like odor on the
breath when exhaled.
Tobacco products: Smoking and
tobacco can leave chemicals that remain in the mouth. Smoking can also
precipitate other bad-breath causes such as
gum disease or oral cancers.
Poor dental hygiene: When a person does
not brush or floss regularly, food particles remaining in the mouth can rot and
cause bad odors. Poor dental care can lead to a buildup of plaque in the mouth,
which causes an odor of its own. Plaque buildup can also lead to periodontal
(gum) disease. The mild form of gum disease is called
gingivitis; if gingivitis
is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis.
Dry mouth: Also called xerostomia, dry
mouth can also cause bad breath. Saliva helps moisten and cleanse the mouth, and
when the body does not product enough saliva, bad breath may result. Dry mouth
may be caused by salivary gland problems, connective tissue disorders (Sjögren's
syndrome), medications, or breathing through the mouth.
Mouth infections: Cavities, gum
disease, or impacted teeth may cause bad breath.
Dentures or braces: Food particles not
properly cleaned from appliances can rot or cause bacteria and odor.
Loose-fitting dentures may cause sores or infections in the mouth, which can
cause bad breath.
Medications: Many medications, including antihistamines and
diuretics, can cause dry mouth (see above), which can cause bad breath. Other
medications that may lead to bad breath may include
shots, triamterene (Dyrenium), and paraldehyde.
"Morning breath": Bad breath in the
morning is very common. Saliva production nearly stops during sleep, which
allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
Other causes of bad breath: Objects
stuck in the nose (usually in children), alcoholism, and large doses of vitamin
supplements may also cause bad breath.
A tiny stone (calculus) in the tonsils. Such stones are found within little pockets (crypts) in the tonsils. These pockets typically form in chronic recurrent tonsillitis, and they harbor bacteria. Tonsilloliths are foul smelling because they tend to contain high quantities of sulfur compounds. When crushed, they give off a characteristic rotten-egg smell and can cause bad breath. Tonsilloliths may also give a person the sense that something is caught in the back of the throat. Also known as tonsil stone.