13 Jan 2022

Why do I have bad breath if I brush my teeth?

t has happened to all of us, at some point, that despite brushing our teeth constantly, our breath smells bad. And in most cases, even if we maintain impeccable oral hygiene, the problem is not our habit but a sign that something is wrong internally.

Given this warning from our organism, the best thing to do is to visit a dentist. But in this post, we will provide you with some of the possible causes of halitosis.

When does bad breath become a problem?

The problem of bad breath can begin to be considered when the affected person can smell their own breath and can regard it as an unpleasant and strong odour.

Common causes of bad breath

Halitosis or chronic bad breath can be caused by these common reasons:

1. Accumulation of bacteria

Bacterial plaque often builds up on and around our teeth and on our tongue. When food debris remains in the mouth, these bacteria break it down, expelling a foul-smelling gas, which contributes to bad breath.

The solution to this is to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss for food debris that is trapped in areas that are difficult to reach for brushing, and perform mouthwashes.

If good oral hygiene habits don’t work, you will need to have your teeth cleaned by a professional.

Often, when plaque is not removed because we do not follow our daily cleaning habits, the food remains that we do not remove harden, accumulate under the gum and turn into tartar.  If the tartar is not removed, apart from problems with bad breath or halitosis, we can also start to suffer from inflamed gums and, therefore, gum disease.

It is therefore very important to visit your dentist for diagnosis and treatment.

2. Tobacco

Habits such as smoking worsen your overall health, but also generate:

  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste
  • Stains on your teeth
  • Damages your gum health.

These are 4 of the thousands of reasons why smoking affects our bodies. By tobacco we mean all methods of taking it: smoking it, chewing it…

3. Some foods

If you like foods with strong flavours, there is a good chance that this will affect your breath. Foods such as onions, garlic and some spices make it easier to suffer from halitosis.

Not to mention recurrent coffee and alcohol consumption.

4. Balanced diets

On the other hand, diets high in protein, sugar and carbohydrates also cause halitosis.

Sugar in our mouth is one of the main sources of tartar creation, as the bacteria we have in our mouth interact a lot with sugars and starch. And, therefore, it is a food that produces bad odour in the oral cavity.

Low carbohydrate intake makes our body not function properly and can be considered a reason for bad breath. It is essential to have a balanced and nutritious diet to avoid this type of problem.

5. Medicines

Other causes of halitosis can be the ingestion of certain medications. Drugs such as

  • Anticholinergics

Some of these drugs often cause dry mouth, especially in the elderly, e.g. anticholinergics.

  • Antineoplastics

Antineoplastics favour the development of pathologies such as oral ulcers, oral candidiasis and gingival bleeding. This helps to cause halitosis.

  • Phenothiazines

This medication also causes xerostomia, as the side effects of phenothiazines cause hairiness on the tongue, which helps to retain more food debris and, therefore, to generate more bacteria.

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiolytics
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antianginal drugs
  • Amyl nitrate
  • Iodine compounds

6. Periodontal diseases

Periodontal diseases generate bad odour due to the bacteria that accumulate in the mouth and produce diseases such as periodontitis, which in very advanced stages can lead to bone putrefaction and, in the last case, bone loss.

Types of halitosis

It is necessary to differentiate between the types of halitosis that exist: true halitosis such as physiological and pathological halitosis and, on the other hand, pseudohalitosis and halitophobia.


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    Dr. Cosimo Galleti

    Dr. Cosimo Galleti is a specialist in Integrated Dentistry from the Universidad degli Studi di Messina (Italy). He has a master's degree in Integrated Dentistry in adults from the UB and is an associate professor at the UIC in the Department of Dentistry.


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