What is bad breath?

Bad breath, often called halitosis, is a common condition with around 30 per cent of the population suffering regularly from it. In around 60 per cent of the cases the cause can be found in the mouth.  In most cases, Halitosis can be easily treated by maintaining a robust and regular oral hygiene routine. Bad breath is usually described as a foul or unpleasant smell or taste from the mouth.

Halitosis can often be a source of embarrassment and even cause anxiety, but rest assured it’s entirely treatable. In most instances you can treat bad breath at home through improvements to your oral health routine and with over-the-counter products.

Continued bad breath may require a visit to the dentist just to check it isn’t a sign of a more serious condition.

Symptoms of bad breath

The symptoms of bad breath are usually easy to spot in that it’s a noticeable unpleasant odour emitted from the mouth. Sometimes it might not be easy to assess your own bad breath so you may need to ask a relative or close friend to confirm.

Speak to a dental professional today

Our dentists have all the experience, skill and technology required to diagnose and treat your bad breath. Arrange an appointment with our dental team at our central London dental clinic, situated on the prestigious Wimpole Street.

What is the most common cause of bad breath?

Bad breath has multiple potential causes including:


Smoking not only creates an unpleasant mouth odour as a by-product of tobacco, but it also increases the chances of contracting gum disease which can cause bad breath.


There are certain foods that, when eaten, can cause bad breath. Common causes include eating onions, spices and garlic.

Poor oral hygiene

Failing to brush and floss daily means that food particles can become stuck or lodged in between or on teeth. This can also lead to plaque being formed which can lead to further bad breath. Neglecting to clean your tongue can also mean that bacteria accumulate and this can lead to further bad breath.


Oral bacterial infections can sometimes cause an unpleasant odour and can contribute to bad breath.

Dry mouth

Natural saliva in your mouth helps remove particles that can lead to bad breath. Some patients may have a condition called xerostomia that decreases the natural production of saliva. Dry mouth is often apparent during sleep, which is why many patients might complain of ‘bad morning breath’ since their mouth hasn’t been fully cleansed during the night.


Bad breath during pregnancy is a common complaint by many an expectant mother. There are a number of reasons why a pregnant woman might experience bad breath more than usual. Hormonal changes for oestrogen and progesterone can often lead to higher than usual levels of plaque. This plaque can then cause bad breath. Furthermore, pregnant women may unfortunately experience morning sickness. Frequent vomiting leads to an unpleasant odour that lingers in the mouth and leads to bad breath.

Reflux disease

Conditions such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) cause reflux of unpleasant smelling stomach acids that can reach the mouth. This in turn can cause, and contribute, to bad breath.

How do you fix bad breath?

Thankfully, most instances of bad breath can be self-treated. Steps you can take to fix bad breath include:

  • Using a reputable fluoride toothpaste can help protect against the causes of bad breath. You can also opt to use an antibacterial mouthwash to protect against bad breath. However, you should avoid rinsing your mouth with water straight after brushing your teeth.
  • Don’t forget to clean your tongue (with a tongue cleaner or scraper) when brushing your teeth.
  • Flossing or cleaning in between your teeth once a day will help avoid food debris accumulating.
  • Maintain a healthy oral routine – that means brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time.
  • Avoiding smoking not only helps reduce bad breath but will protect your long-term health.
  • Attend regular dental appointments so that your dentist/hygienist can spot and prevent any potential issues that might cause bad breath, or worse.
  • Avoid over-consuming foods and drinks that can create dental issues that can lead to bad breath.