COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information

Your health and safety are our top priorities. Learn more about our COVID-19 evaluation and testing and our commitment to providing great care while maintaining the safest environment possible.

Health Library

Breath odor
Site Map

Breath odor

Bad breath; Halitosis; Malodor; Fetor oris; Fetor ex ore; Fetor ex oris; Breath malodor; Oral malodor

Breath odor is the scent of the air you breathe out of your mouth. Unpleasant breath odor is commonly called bad breath.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Considerations

Bad breath is usually related to poor dental hygiene. Not brushing and flossing regularly causes sulfur compounds to be released by bacteria in the mouth.

Some disorders will produce distinct breath odors. Some examples are:

Causes

Bad breath may be caused by:

Some diseases that may cause breath odor are:

Home Care

Use proper dental hygiene, especially flossing. Remember that mouthwashes are not effective in treating the underlying problem.

Fresh parsley or a strong mint is often an effective way to fight temporary bad breath. Avoid smoking.

Otherwise, follow your health care provider's instructions to treat any underlying cause of bad breath.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will take a medical history and perform a physical exam.

You may be asked the following medical history questions:

The physical exam will include a thorough inspection of your mouth and nose. A throat culture may be taken if you have a sore throat or mouth sores.

In rare cases, tests that may be performed include:

Antibiotics may be prescribed for some conditions. For an object in the nose, your provider will use an instrument to remove it.

Related Information

Diabetic ketoacidosis
Nausea and vomiting - adults
Intestinal obstruction and Ileus
Chronic kidney disease

References

Murr AH. Approach to the patient with nose, sinus, and ear disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 398.

Quirynen M, Laleman I, Geest SD, Hous CD, Dekeyser C, Teughels W. Breath malodor. In: Newman MG, Takei HH, Klokkevold PR, Carranza FA, eds. Newman and Carranza's Clinical Periodontology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 49.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 2/6/2020  

Reviewed By: Michael Kapner, DDS, Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, Norwalk, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2020 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.