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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.


Halitosis, commonly referred to as “bad breath,” is an unpleasant odor produced in the mouth that can be long-lasting or can occur periodically.

What causes bad breath?

The human mouth is home to some 600 types of bacteria and millions of these microscopic organisms thrive in the saliva. Left to themselves, these invisible living things negate each other’s bad effects. However, certain conditions may upset the balance and as a result, the mouth will produce foul odor.

There are also types of bad breath that are considered natural, such as the so-called “morning mouth,” or the unpleasant smell that comes when a person wakes up in the morning. In the evening, when people sleep, the body makes less saliva, making the mouth dry and more conducive to producing bacteria that then emits sulphur-based compounds that cause the foul odor.

Aside from these reactions, bad breath is also caused by:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Mouth infections
  • Inadequate cleaning of tongue
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Illnesses such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, sinus disease, reflux disease and others

How does one know he/she has bad breath?

A person may not know that he or she has bad breath unless someone tells or makes a gesture of revulsion. This is because odor-detecting cells in the nose eventually get accustomed to the unpleasant smell.

Symptoms of mouth infections

  • Red or swollen gums that may bleed easily, especially after brushing or flossing
  • Pus between teeth or a pocket of pus (abscess) at the base of a tooth
  • Loose teeth or a change in how a denture fits
  • Painful, open sores on the tongue or gums

Symptoms of respiratory tract infections

  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes (“swollen glands”) in the neck
  • Fever
  • Stuffy nose
  • A greenish or yellowish discharge from the nose
  • A cough that produces mucus

Symptoms of dry mouth

  • Difficulty swallowing dry foods
  • Difficulty speaking for a long time because of mouth dryness
  • Burning in the mouth
  • An unusually high number of cavities
  • Dry eyes (in Sjögren's syndrome)

Halitosis may be an indication of certain illnesses such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney failure or liver disease.

How can bad breath be prevented?

Observing proper dental hygiene such as brushing, cleaning the tongue and flossing, as well as regular visits to the dentists, are the best way to prevent bad breath.

Use a mouthwash approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).

For innovative, state-of-the art facial plastic and ENT surgical care, come to SoCal ENT. To schedule your one-on-one consultation with Dr. Namazie, please call us at 818.986.5500, or you can use our online Request an Appointment form.




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