Bad Breath, Who Stole The Air?

Dr Akinsiku Oluwanimbe

15th Mar, 2016



Steve presented at the hospital this morning. According to him, he is not a regular caller at hospitals. Apart from one or two episodes of headache in the past year (which he took care of with analgesics), there hasn't been any reason to see a Doctor, but right there he was before me.

''I have tried all available options but nothing seems to work'', he said. They have all followed the same course- 7 of them, he continued. I was still engulfed in the suspense he had put me in so I asked: Errmmm, what really happened, I mean what brought you to the hospital (trying to be in control of the situation.)

''OK doctor, I met a lady some months ago, we got talking and exchanged numbers. We later arranged for a date yesterday evening. It went well except that I noticed she looks away when I talk to her. I called her this morning but to my utter surprise she told me she wasn't interested in having a relationship with me and that I shouldn't call her again. This is not the first time it will be happening this way''.

My mouth smells Doctor, and I am now convinced this is the reason the ladies have been running away from me.''

As he sat before me dejected, there was only one question on his lips:


Halitosis or foul breath or oral malodor is a condition in which the mouth exudes offensive odor.

There are several sources of halitosis, they include:

1) Psychological halitosis.

In this condition, the patient perceives himself/herself to have a bad breath. Usually the people around them; friends, family and even the doctor attending to them may not perceive any odor. They seem to be the only one perceiving it. Treatment is by medical and psychological counseling.


2) Intra oral causes:

These are odorous substances emanating from the mouth and its associated structures e.g. the teeth, tongue, gums, dentures etc.

  1. When the mouth is not properly cleaned or brushed, a thin like film begins to form on the teeth surfaces called plaque. Gradually as they are left untouched, they mineralize and form a hardened mass called calculus which is firmly adherent to the teeth and which cannot be removed by simple tooth brushing. They contain heavy load of bacteria which release chemicals / toxins which cause the gum to swell and cause the mouth to smell too.
  2. The tongue surface can also trap bacteria which cause the mouth to smell. Regular brushing of the tongue surface is therefore advised. Another source of odor is from dentures which are not cleaned regularly.
  3. Also in certain medical conditions which cause a reduction in the volume of saliva, there is rapid accumulation of plaque and calculus. This is because, a major function of saliva (constituent) is to clean the teeth and raise the acid pH level, thereby acting as a buffer agent so that bacteria do not have the required acid substrate to work on. This is also the case in mouth breathers.
  4. The use of tobacco in any form (smoking, sniffing, chewing) etc. or alcohol intake (Yes Alcohol AGAIN!!!) can leave chemicals in the mouth, which eventually cause foul odor.

Maintaining a good oral hygiene, regular scaling and polishing (twice in a year), are ways of preventing these sources of halitosis. However.......


Stay tuned for more causes, prevention and treatment of Halithosis. Got a bad breath? Why don't you chat with one of our Doctors for free today! Please visit the chat room.

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