What is it?

Consists of the unpleasant odors coming from the mouth or through breathing.

Since early times, people complain about bad breath. Some 3,5 thousand years ago, the Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed a mouthwash with wine and herbs to enhance the breath. And a young manufacturer of cosmetics, in ancient Rome, has become very rich by inventing and producing peppermint essence to improve breath.

How does it occur?

About 60% of the world population either has or had bad breath.  One of the primary causes of bad breath, or halitosis, is related to the spicy sauces that we use in our food. After eating garlic or onion, for example, their smell is not only present in our breath, or in the air that is expelled from our lungs, but even our skin smells of it.

But 90% of that offensive breath  that many people have comes from the food waste from what we eat during the day, without having access or time for teeth brushing after every meal, or even after that cup of coffee at the office. Tiny particles of food become stuck in between the teeth, bridges or dentures we use.

If you suffer from dental plaque, such effect can last for days. Another quite common cause of halitosis, the accumulation of food in the crevices of the tonsils, causes these substances to ferment with the eventual bacteria proliferation. It may occasionally occur the release of foul-smelling tonsil stones, also named tonsillolith.

Bacteria living in the mouth cavity, feeding off of food residue lying between the teeth are the primary cause of bad breath. As they ferment, the by-products generate sulfuric acid, the same found in rotten eggs.These bacteria like to lodge on the front part of the tongue, where they produce a whitish mucus usually found in the early hours of the morning.

Fortunately enough for us, our bodies are made in such a way that our mouth carries its own anti-bacterial defense: the saliva. Oral bacteria that cause bad breath are anaerobic, that is, living in places where there is little or no oxygen.  Saliva, among other things, contains overabundant oxygen.
The foul-smell that we feel in our breath when waking up comes from bacteria that were hidden in places in the mouth with no oxygen. Salivary glands restrict their production to a minimum during sleep, because you are not awake and eating.The mouth becomes dry, and the bacteria multiply, causing that stinky, fermented-smelling breath from what you ate the night before.

What to do?

Brush your teeth whenever you can, especially after each meal. Floss between the teeth and then rinse strongly (using a mouthwash with a pinch of baking soda may prove to be more efficient).Then gargle to wash your tongue, especially the back part.


To increase saliva production in the mouth, and avoid the harmful dry mouth, use a chewing gum (preferably diet).


Take a high-fiber diet, such as carrots, apples and other high-fiber foods. They help promote a thorough cleaning of the teeth at the gumline.


To reduce bad breath from heavy drinking or smoking, use a mouthwash with water and lemon (no sugar or diet) three times a day. Lemons have acids that counteract the effects of the typical odor of these susbtances.


Drink lots of water.


Visit your dentist at least twice a year.
Questions you can ask your doctor

What should I do first when presenting halitosis?

Who should coordinate the investigation, the otorhinolaryngologist, the dentist or the gastroenterologist?

Can I use mouthwash and gargle with popular products?