Consumer News - Stinky breath might not be your fault

Not brushing or flossing well enough, eating garlicky foods and tobacco use have been named as causes of bad breath, but Japanese researchers say, in some cases, we can blame it on the wrong proportion of bacteria that live in the mouth.

Scientists studied the bacteria in the saliva of 240 patients who complained of bad breath and found four types of bacterial community compositions. They measured the oral malodor intensity and found that those with higher concentrations of four species of bacteria were more likely to have serious malodor. They conclude that the bacterial population structure of a person's mouth would need to be changed to eliminate bad breath.

Bad breath can be embarrassing and is one of the biggest complaints dentists hear from their patients. According to the ADA, bad breath can also be a sign of a medical disorder a respiratory tract infection, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, he or she may refer you to your family doctor or a specialist for additional follow up.

If you suspect your breath isn't as fresh as it could be because of your diet, oral health care habits or tobacco use, there are several things you can do to improve it.

Maintaining good oral hygiene, eliminating periodontal (gum) disease and scheduling regular dental cleanings and checkups are essential for reducing bad breath. If you think bad breath is a problem for you, keep a log of the foods you eat, the medications you take and any health issues you've experienced since you noticed a change in your breath.

For more details and an extensive Q & A from the ADA, visit here

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© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Foul-smelling breath, usually caused by the breakdown of food. Other culprits include poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, disease, infection, tobacco use and severe dieting.


Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible causes that include:

  • Food particles from stinky foods like garlic and onions
  • Smoking
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Acid Reflux
  • Poor Oral Hygiene

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