How is bad breath generated?

How is bad breath generated?

Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is a problem that affects almost 30% of the adult population.

It is defined as the set of unpleasant odors that are emitted through the mouth, either punctually or permanently.1

90% of the causes of halitosis originate in the mouth2. There are several possible causes, some of them are3:

  • Food: Decomposing particles of food that remain on or around the teeth lead to the production of bacteria and with it, bad odor. Eating foods such as garlic, onions and spices also gives rise to this bad odor.
  • Tobacco: Smoking already causes an unpleasant odor in the mouth, but tobacco users also tend to have gum problems, leading to bad breath.
  • Oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene by not brushing and flossing would result in the accumulation of food particles in the mouth.
  • Dry mouth: Saliva plays an important role in helping to clean the mouth by removing odor-causing particles, but in the case of patients who normally have a dry mouth, they will have less saliva, and therefore bad breath.
  • Infections in the mouth: A surgical wound, tooth extraction, cavities or mouth sores would also lead to bad breath.
  • Other conditions of the mouth: Sometimes, the origin of bad breath is also produced by small stones that form in the tonsils. They receive the name tonsilloliths or caseum, these are covered with bacteria giving rise to a bad odor.

To prevent or reduce bad breath, it will be necessary4:

  • Brush teeth and tongue after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • In case of wearing orthodontics or dentures, clean them well.
  • To avoid dry mouth, it is essential to drink water and even suck on a piece of candy to stimulate saliva.
  • Control your diet to avoid eating foods that cause bad breath.
  • Change your toothbrush regularly.


  1. “Mal aliento – Síntomas y causas – Mayo Clinic.” (accessed Dec. 07, 2022).
  2. M. PÉREZ ALCÁZAR, “Halitosis. Causas y tratamiento,” Farmacia Profesional, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 55–60, Apr. 2002, Accessed: Dec. 07, 2022. [Online]. Available:
  3. “Halitosis: origen, causas y tratamiento para combatirla.” (accessed Dec. 07, 2022).



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