Halitosis—What’s causing it?

Halitosis, oral malodor, or ‘bad breath’ affects more than 35% of the adult population and is a significant cause of embarrassment, worry, and psychological distress.

While some people experience temporary halitosis after eating certain foods or in the morning when they wake up, others struggle with bad breath for more extended periods. It’s the third most common oral issue for which people seek dental care after periodontal disease and tooth decay.

There are countless possible causes for bad breath, but the vast majority involve oral hygiene and can signify a serious underlying medical or oral health concern. Here’s a roundup of a few reasons why your breath may smell worse than your garbage disposal.

Acidic Foods

Consuming certain odor-causing foods such as spices, vegetables, onions, and garlic can enter the bloodstream and reach the lungs, leading to an unusual odor in your breath every time you exhale.

If food flavoring agents or debris is left behind in the mouth, bacteria are produced in the mouth to break it down. This produces volatile sulfur compounds, which are among the stinkiest chemicals, often characterized as ‘otten eggs or cabbage.’

Dry Mouth

If your mouth feels parched, chances are it’s due to your mouth not producing enough saliva. Since saliva works round the clock to wash out your mouth, have lots of water to keep it hydrated.

Consuming too much alcohol or coffee also affect saliva production. Since a dry mouth is the best environment for odor-causing bacteria to flourish, you may find your breath smelling particularly unpleasant after your morning coffee or a causal alcohol binge.

Illustration of stinky breath


Chewing tobacco or using pipe and cigarettes—all lead to serious health issues. Research reveals that tobacco can damage taste buds and cause inflammation in gum tissues, leading to periodontal diseases. And while you may not be able to figure it out due to decreased ability to smell, smoking leaves your mouth smell like an ashtray!

Digestive Disorders

Irregular bowel movements, constipation, or poor digestion often causes acid reflux, which in turn cause odors from recently consumed food to rise to the esophagus, making their way out the mouth.

Low carb, high-protein diets, and sugary foods also cause your body’s metabolism to change, which is why experts suggest a well-balanced, nutritious diet to overcome halitosis.

Expert Advice On Dealing With Halitosis

Teeth whitening by dentists in CA

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and don’t forget to floss thoroughly between your teeth.
  • Use over the counter mouthwashes without alcohol to neutralize or kill bacteria temporarily.
  • If you’ve dentures, make a routine to clean them every night before using them again the next day.
  • Eat more healthy foods, quit smoking, chew sugar-free gum or candies, keep yourself hydrated, or use dry mouth sprays and gels to improve saliva production.

If you still don’t see any improvement, schedule an appointment with West Hills Smiles to consult our highly experienced dentists as some underlying oral complication may be the culprit behind halitosis.

Regular checkups and cleanings allow dentists to detect any issues, such as gum diseases or dry mouth, or any other conditions that require prompt treatment before they become severe conditions.

We provide professional teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry, Invisalign teeth alignment treatment, and other comprehensive services. We also offer emergency dental care services in West Hills, Reseda, and nearby areas of CA.