Health Origins of Bad Breath (Halitosi)

Most halitosis (bad breath problems) of health origin begin in the mouth.

  • Bad breath of the oral cavity origin often can be traced to a sulfur compound produced by bacteria. Dead and dying bacterial cells release this sulfur compound which gives the breath an unpleasant odor.
  • Bacterial plaque and food debris accumulate on the back of the tongue. The tongue’s surface is extremely rough, and bacteria can accumulate easily in the cracks and crevices. Large amounts of sulfur compounds can be produced in this area, making it a frequent site of origin for bad breath.
  • The tooth attracts bacteria containing plaque and if not cleaned regularly and thoroughly, this can result in large accumulations of bacteria which result in bad breath.
  • People who have periodontitis often experience bad breath because of bacteria accumulating in areas that are not cleaned easily, such as deep pockets around teeth.

Other causes include infection in the sinuses or lungs, diabetes (as it causes an acetone odor), kidney failure (as it can cause a fishy odor), malfunction of the liver, metabolism disorders, and fasting.

If you have ruled out the obvious causes, such as recently eating onions or garlic, or using tobacco products, let’s have a conversation about your oral and systemic health. This conversation is likely to uncover a possible cause or causes that can be addressed. Let’s also examine teeth, gums, and dental restorations for signs of bacterial plaque and talk about how this can be eliminated. If Dr. Lopez suspects your breath is affected by a systemic disease, he will refer you to your physician for additional evaluation.

Treatment begins with a complete oral examination and health history. Based on findings, Dr. Lopez will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your situation. You will be fully informed about what is happening in your mouth and why. You will also learn what will happen if you do not accept treatment.

Bad breath sufferers are encouraged to seek treatment because of the high success rate in managing the problem. If you are concerned about your breath, a conversation with the dentist and dental hygienist at Jay Lopez, D.D.S., in Tucson, AZ will help determine the cause and remedy.

Please read our Preventive Dentistry articles to learn more about preventing and treating infections of the mouth.