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Dr Benley George

Vice Principal, Pushpagiri College of Dental Sciences, Tiruvalla,



Bad breath or Halitosis is a major problem affecting a large group of people in the world. It is the third frequent reason after dental decay and gingivitis for people to seek dental care. Many people are in fact not aware that they are suffering from this problem. Bad breath was found to be one of the reasons for divorce among the community. There are many intra oral and extra oral reasons for the occurrence of bad breath;

  1. Tooth decay
  2. Deposits of food debris over teeth/tongue
  3. Gum disease
  4. Smoking
  5. Chewing tobacco
  6. Alcohol
  7. Sinusitis
  8. Gastric problems
  9. Liver disorders
  10. Kidney disorders
  11. Consuming diet containing garlic and onion
  12. Lung infections
  13. Diabetes
  14. Oral infections
  15. Poor maintenance of removable dentures
  16. Dry mouth


How do you know that you are suffering from bad breath?

  1. If you find that any of your friends or relatives are moving away from your during a conversation with them suggests that your bad breath was the reason for them to avoid you.
  2. Take an unwaxed, unscented dental floss and floss your upper or lower back teeth and wait for 30 seconds. Smell the floss and if you feel it has a bad odour it may indicate that you are suffering from bad breath.
  3. Lick the back part of your hand(not the palm side) for about 5 seconds. Wait for 30 seconds. If it smells bad then it indicates that you could be suffering from bad breath.
  4. Halimeter is a devise which has been used for detection of bad breath through the detection of volatile sulphur compounds in the oral cavity. A dentist can identify bad breath through this devise.
  5. Recently a new devise Oral Chroma, a portable gas chromatograph has been in use for the detection of bad breath. This devise helps in distinguishing between intra-oral halitosis and extra-oral halitosis.


Treatment and Prevention

It is very important to identify the cause of bad breath. The treatment depends upon the cause of the problem which should be rectified at the earliest.

  1. Consult your dentist once in 6 months. Undergo a scaling of teeth once in 6 months.
  2. Brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
  3. Never forget to clean your tongue with tongue scraper after brushing your teeth.
  4. Floss your teeth atleast once a day.
  5. Use Chlorhexidine/Listerine mouth rinse to freshen your breath.
  6. Decayed teeth should be restored to prevent accumulation of food deposits within the cavity.
  7. Gum disease/periodontal problems should be treated at the earliest to eliminate bad breath.
  8. Treatment should be obtained for systemic problems like diabetes, liver disorders, kidney disorders, gastric disorders, lung infections and sinusitis so as to eliminate bad breath.
  9. Quit smoking and tobacco to be free of bad breath and to have a health oral cavity.
  10. Use chewing gum containing xylitol to freshen your breath.
  11. Clean your removable dentures daily using denture cleansing brush and tooth paste to remove food particles and bacteria present over it.


Bad breath can affect a person very badly. Bad breath can decrease the self-confidence of a person, and make others ignore him. Just as our physical appearance is important similarly our breath has great importance. Bad breath is curable and the cause should be identified and treated accordingly to be rid of this problem.

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