Ear Nose & Throat

5 Causes of Bad Breath

  • 											Array
        [name] => Dr Lau Chee Chong
        [avatar] => https://thisquarterly.sg/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Dr-Lau-Chee-Chong-avatar.jpg
        [tiny_avatar] => https://thisquarterly.sg/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Dr-Lau-Chee-Chong-tiny.jpg
        [address] => Ear, Nose & Throat Centre CC Lau
    3 Mount Elizabeth
    #14-11 Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre
    Singapore 228510
    Tel: 6235 9535
        [id] => 2112
        [doctor_link] => https://thisquarterly.sg/doctors-panel/ear-nose-throat-specialist/dr-lau-chee-chong/
        [specialization] => Ear Nose & Throat Specialist
        [specialization_id] => 32
        [specialization_link] => https://thisquarterly.sg/doctors_panel/ear-nose-throat-specialist/
  • April 1, 2019
  • 1 minute read

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can creates social embarrassment and anxiety, or worse, affects personal and business relationships. Here are 5 causes of bad breath.

How to know if you have halitosis

  • Breathe out forcefully through your mouth into a cupped hand and inhale through your nose immediately.
  • Scrape the surface of your entire tongue from back to front with a spoon. Allow it to dry, then smell it.
  • Ask a relative or close friend to tell you honestly.

1. Infection or inflammation in the mouth, nose and throat

  • Bad breath can occasionally stem from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor
  • Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat
  • Poor dental hygience
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Bronchitis

2. Dry mouth

Saliva helps clean and flush the mouth of food and other particles. Saliva maintains a balance of healthy bacterial flora in the mouth. Causes of dry mouth:

  • Reduced production of saliva during sleep allows oral bacterial to flourish, particularly in mouth-breather and those who do not maintain oral cleanliness before sleep. The flourishing of oral baterial causes bad breath commonly known ‘morning breath’
  • Blocked nose due to deviated nasal septum, polyps, tumor, or enlarged turbinates, adenoids or tonsils
  • Disease of salivary glands, insufficient water intake, medication, antihistamines, decongestants or diuretics
  • Nose cancer, oral cavity or larynx, especially after surgery and radiation therapy

3. Diet

  • Consumption of odorous food items, such as onion, garlic or curry

4. General health diseases

  • Pneumonia, diabetes, liver and kidney disease

5. Smoking

  • Smoking cigarette cause dry mouth, altering the balance of healthy bacterial flora


Before seeing a specialist, try these steps first:

  • Keep mouth moist at all times
  • Drink adequate amounts of plain water
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables (apples, carrots, etc)
  • Chew sugarless dental chewing gum
  • Regularly floss and brush teeth and clean oral appliances
  • Use mouthwash
  • Avoid halitosis-causing foods
  • Use a chinstrap to prevent mouth-breathing during sleep
  • Don’t smoke

If these steps fail to counter the condition, consult an ENT specialist. Treatment depends on the cause. Your ENT specialist will identify the cause and treat it accordingly.

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