Bad breath

Bad breath or halitosis

A good or bad taste in the mouth does not indicate bad breath. A person may temporarily smell from their mouth, for example, from eating spicy foods, drinking alcohol or smoking. But someone with halitosis always smells from their mouth. The cause has little or nothing to do with what you eat or drink. The main culprits are dental or gum disease, the presence of bacteria and food debris in the mouth. The bacteria produce sulfur, which smells unpleasant. Diagnosis from the dentist or dental hygienist is required to diagnose halitosis. This form of bad breath affects about one in seven people. Halitosis does not pass by itself and can in most cases be remedied.

What causes bad breath and what can you do about it?

Food, drinks and smoking

For example, anyone who has eaten garlic, onions or herbs, has drunk alcohol or has smoked, can breathe an unpleasant smell. This odor is temporary and you can prevent or mask it.


To avoid the unpleasant smell, you should not use the products. To temporarily mask the unpleasant smells, you can eat or drink something, for example sugar-free chewing gum or brush your teeth with a refreshing toothpaste.

Inflamed teeth or gums

An inflamed tooth or gums is often the cause of bad breath. The inflammatory bacteria produce an unpleasant sulfur odor. Failure to properly remove plaque on and between your teeth will not only increase your risk of cavities, but your gums will become inflamed. Plaque that is not removed can harden and calcify into tartar. New plaque easily adheres to tartar, which can cause your gums to become increasingly inflamed. The bacteria between your teeth can also cause a bad sulfur odor.


The dentist can remedy the inflammation in the tooth with a root canal. You can prevent gum disease by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes. In addition, clean the spaces between your teeth once a day with brushes, floss or toothpicks. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist for good brushing instructions. It may also require extensive dental cleaning by the dentist or dental hygienist.

Bacteria on the back of the tongue

Bacteria and food debris (tongue coating) are present on the back part of the tongue. The bacteria produce sulfur, which smells unpleasant. Rough tongues are more likely to leave food residues than smooth tongues. Someone with a rough tongue is more likely to get tongue coating and thus halitosis. Older people have more tongue coverage than young people.


Clean your tongue daily with a tongue cleaner. Scrape the tongue coating off your tongue in about five times. Scrape the entire width of the tongue, i.e. in the middle and on the left and right sides of the tongue. The further back you get on your tongue, the more you can remove. Clean your tongue twice a day, preferably in the morning and in the evening. Research shows that cleaning the tongue with a tongue cleaner is more effective than with a toothbrush. Does tongue cleaning provide insufficient results? Then additional care is required. Sometimes, in addition to tongue cleaning, you may need to combat the bacteria causing your bad breath with a mouthwash, gargle and / or mouth spray. Tongue cleansers, mouthwashes, gargles, and mouth sprays are available without a prescription.

How do you use a tongue cleaner or scraper?

Stick your tongue out of your mouth as far as possible.

Place the tongue cleaner on the back of your tongue as far as possible. Apply force to the scraper and press your tongue flat. Make sure the tongue cleaner makes good contact with your tongue. At the beginning, you will be gagging at this point. Doing it more often will teach you to position the cleaner to minimize a gag reaction.

Slowly pull the tongue cleaner forward into your mouth.

Clean the cleaner under running water.

Repeat the procedure about five times.

Rinse your mouth well with water.

Clean and dry the tongue cleaner and keep it until next use.

Dry mouth

Bad breath is common in people with dry mouth. Mouth dryness can be caused by too little saliva production or due to breathing through the mouth. Certain medications have a dry mouth as a side effect.

Go to your dentist or dental hygienist with your dry mouth symptoms. Your practitioner will give you tailor-made advice to limit your complaints as much as possible. If you have a dry mouth, it is advisable to drink water regularly.

Choose sugar-free gum

Place the tongue cleaner on the back of the tongue as far as possible

Other causes of bad breath

Sometimes chemical processes in the blood cause the air from the lungs to smell unpleasant. Someone then smells from both the nose and the mouth. Bad breath can also occur with perfect oral hygiene. An inflammation in the throat or paranasal sinus can be the cause. An assessment by an ENT specialist is then necessary. Many people think that a bad smell comes from the stomach. But this is almost never the case.


See your dentist or dental hygienist for advice. He can determine your breath odor and determine whether a referral to a general practitioner or specialist is necessary.

What does not help against halitosis?

You cannot get rid of halitosis with fresh candies, chewing gum or sprays. These only leave a nice mint flavor. Because of the taste, you feel like your breath is fresh, but that feeling is deceiving. The refreshment of your mouth can only partially cover up your bad breath and usually only for a few minutes. It also does not help to brush more often and harder. Mouthwashes that aren't specifically designed to combat bad breath don't help either.

Tips for fresh breath

Taking good care of your teeth, gums and tongue is important to prevent or combat bad breath.

Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day.

Also clean the spaces between your teeth once a day with dental floss, toothpicks or brushes.

Use a tongue scraper twice a day if you have a lot of tongue coating, possibly together with a mouthwash, gargle or mouth spray.

Also visit your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for check-ups. If necessary, it will thoroughly clean your teeth or treat an infected tooth.

Stop smoking.

Subject to typesetting and printing errors

Notices on this page are posted by for informational purposes only. We do not perform treatments, consult with medical problems and / or always ask a specialist.

Sources: Silver Cross, Ivory Cross, FBTO, Interpolis, VGZ, Ohra, Achmea, ASR, CZ, DSW, Menzis.