The one thing that can rapidly stop an interesting conversation or dampen any romantic moment would be bad breath. Even great movie stars have to worry about it. Clark Gable was notorious for having bad breath and it was something that his co-star, Vivien Leigh, complained bitterly about during the making of Gone with the Wind.

Origins of bad breath

No one knows exactly how many people suffer from bad breath. Recent research estimates around 20%. We do however know that 90% of bad breath originates in the mouth and rarely does it come directly from the stomach.

The common intraoral sites for bad breath

The mouth has many sources of malodour. Faulty restorations are a common cause often leading to an associated foul taste. Old leaking fillings, poor fitting crowns and food impaction sites are a breading ground for bacteria that cause bad breath.

The most frequently overlooked source being the posterior area of the tongue. This is also the area mostly missed during routine dental hygiene.

The bacteria found between the teeth are also very likely to cause bad breath. These bacteria can also be associated with gum disease. People with poor interdental hygiene are more likely to develop gum disease, making bad breath a possible sign of gum disease.

Other sources of bad breath

Many non-oral conditions such as lung infections, metabolic dysfunctions and biochemical disorders can result in bad breath, but all these account for only a small fraction of cases. Bad breath has also been considered a diagnostic indication of diabetes.

Odours from foods such as garlic, onions and alcohol are external sources of odour. Some of which are retained in the mouth and some carried in the blood stream. These are then released through the skin or the breath for long periods.


In most cases bad breath can effectively be prevented through proper dental treatment and effective oral hygiene and tongue cleaning.

Although dental floss is a much-disliked part of hygiene, its proper use can significantly decrease bad breath and the occurrence of gum disease. Together with deep tongue cleaning this should form an integral part of daily oral hygiene. Leading to a fresher healthier breath.

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