Causes of halitosis

IMI Clinic

Halitosis, aka bromopnea, is the emission of a bad smell from the oral cavity – an ailment with marked psychological and social repercussions.

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causes-of-halitosisThe causes of halitosis are many, among the most notable:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Mouth infections (cavities, periodontitis, and gingivitis)
  • Poor hydration of the oral mucosa
  • Digestive and gastro-intestinal diseases (gastritis, colitis, acid reflux, hiatus hernia)
  • Metabolic diseases (diabetes, liver and kidney dysfunctions)
  • Diseases of the airways (bronchi, tonsils, paranasal sinuses)

This ailment can afflict subjects of all ages, though as the years go by the numbers increase.

Another non-secondary source of bad breath is food.

Some foods have a bad smell themselves, while others cause halitosis when their residues are not correctly eliminated from the spaces between the teeth and the tongue, because in this way bacteria are formed which cause the noxious exhalations.

It is, however, true that just like there are some foods that cause or contribute to causing halitosis, there are others that can be a serious help making this annoying problem better.


In general, the food you should avoid contains elevated quantities of sulphur, sugar, and fats.

In more detail, the food you should be careful of is:

  • Garlic, onion, leak, peppers, spices (especially curry), eggs, shellfish, and cabbages because of their elevated sulfur content
  • Sweets, chocolate, candy, cookies, juice, sugar cola-based drinks, brittle, and drinks containing caramel. If eaten between meals and not removed with adequate cleaning, the sugars contained in these foods can generate a considerable amount of bacteria in the oral cavity
  • Fatty additions: butter, lard, and margarine, because they slow down your digestion
  • Alcoholic beverages and spirits, because they quickly spread in your blood stream and lungs and then are released in your breath
  • Fat or smoked meat, milk, seasoned or blue cheese, and some fish. The residue not removed from mouth and teeth releases sulphur gases

The food that instead can help people who suffer from halitosis are the following:

  • All foods that contain large amounts of water, because they stimulate the production of saliva and have a powerful refreshing effect (celery, zucchini, grapes, carrots, cucumbers, and lemon)
  • Herbs, such as rosemary, sage, mint, thyme, basil, and parsley because of their antiseptic properties
  • Infusions with herbs capable of absorbing intestinal gases (anise, lemon balm, fennel seeds, coriander, and cardamom)
  • Yoghurt, preferably low fat and white, because it preserves the functions of the intestinal flora

Naturally, a proper diet should be combined with a healthy lifestyle. First of all, avoid smoking and tobacco, then carry out a complete daily oral hygiene (toothbrush, interdental brush, dental floss) or chew gum with xylitol, use freshening mouth wash with moderation, chew every bight well before swallowing.

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