What can you do about bad breath?

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common problem. One out of every seven people suffer from it at some stage. 

The Cause

There are a number of causes of bad breath. Bacteria at the back of your tongue, gums and inflammation around your teeth and implants are the most common causes. Bacteria produce sulphur and this causes an unpleasant smell. On rare occasions a different cause can be found. Think about a nose- or frontal sinus inflammation or the re-production of gases due to insufficient closure of the stomach. Diseases like diabetes can also cause bad breath. In the professional industry bad breath is referred to as halitosis or foetor ex ore.

The most common causes of bad breath:

  • dehydration of the mouth (often due to medicine*)
  • insufficient oral care
  • tooth decay
  • inflamed gums
  • bacteria on your tongue
  • inflammation of your tonsils
  • eating certain foods on a regular basis**

Symptoms bad breath

The first signal of bad breath is a nasty taste in your mouth. A yellowish layer consisting of food residue and bacteria on your tongue and inflamed gums can cause this nasty taste. Of course your environment can give signals, but seen from a social point of view, it is not likely people will say anything. This is a shame because the sooner bad breath is spotted, the sooner treatment can start.

Consequences of bad breath

Bad breath can cause severe problems on a personal level. Shame, insecurity and isolation can occur. By optimising your oral hygiene and taking care of your oral problems, suffering can be prevented.

Preventing bad breath

Good oral hygiene can prevent many problems. Make sure you brush your teeth well and rinse with mouthwash on a regular basis. Dr. Peter Blijdorp recommends using our bluem® mouthspray with active oxygen.

What can you do about bad breath?

The treatment depends on the cause.

  • Inflammation of teeth and gums should be detected and treated by your dentist or dental hygienist.
  • Your oral hygiene should be optimised, tooth decay should be treated and possible deficient restorations need to be handled or replaced.
  • Drink a glass of water right after you get up in the morning. This will get your saliva going.
  • Stop smoking.
  • A reference to a specialist. When the cause is not to be found in your mouth, your GP can refer you to a otorhinolaryngologist. Certain hospitals have a so called “halitosis-office hour”.
  • Use (sugar free) sweets, a fresh mouthspray or chewing gum with xylitol. This can temporarily reduce your problem.


Medication plays a huge part in developing a dry mouth. Many kinds of medicine will reduce the production of saliva and increase dehydration of your oral mucous. Check your medicine with your physician on a regular basis. Consult your physician as to whether you can take your medication in the morning instead of the evening. Having a dry mouth at night damages your jaw more than during the day. Add products with xylitol. Xylitol helps increase your saliva production and is present in almost all bluem® products.


Besides poor oral hygiene, smoking and inflammation, nutrition plays an important role. Spicy foods such as pepper, onion and garlic, acidic products and a lack of fluid can contribute to a less pleasant smell. Food-intolerance can play a role as well (gluten and lactose for example).

Making a few changes to your nutrition can help:

  • Drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day
  • Eat plenty of vegetables
  • Avoid spicy foods
  • Eat fibre-rich foods to help your digestion
  • Limit your alcohol- and caffeine intake (both cause a water deficit)
  • Drink at least 2 cups of tea with fresh ginger and mint to neutralise smells.

Frequently Asked Questions about bad breath

Can bad breath be caused by stress?

Yes. Stress can cause your mucous to become dry. And a dry mouth has an effect on your breath and taste in your mouth. Try and reduce your stress levels by eating wholesome foods, exercise on a regular bases and make sure you relax enough during the week.

Can the plaque on my tongue cause bad breath?
Yes. Bacteria will sit and “rest” on your tongue. This can cause plaque. Plaque can smell when you leave it there too long. We advise you to scrape your tongue on a daily bases to avoid bad breath.