What does Bad Breath smell like? (20/02/24)

What does bad breath smell like?

Halitosis – more commonly known as bad breath smells differently depending on the cause. It’s difficult to know whether your own breath smells or not, we can sometimes tell by the taste in our mouths. Hopefully you have a really honest friend or family member that you can ask. You might find your breath doesn’t smell at all!

We have researched the various odours that can occur and described them below and suggested some solutions:

Faeces or Poo-like

There could be issues with the digestive system. Are you constipated or do you have any bowel issues? IBS or other digestive problems? It may be worth speaking to your Nurse or GP.

Rotten eggs or sulphur

This is bad breath caused by the breakdown of proteins by bacteria in the mouth. It is quite common. The sulphur compounds in your mouth such as hydrogen sulphide and methyl mercaptan leads to this eggy smell. Unfortunately there are many foods that can cause this rotten smell and they include, garlic, onions, egg, cruciferous veg (broccoli, cabbage etc), high protein meat and fish, coffee and alcohol.

We clearly can’t stop eating these foods as they are good for us (well aside from the alcohol) so if we are aware they can cause an eggy smell from your mouth, you can use ProFresh Mouthwash after eating them and then brush your teeth if it is convenient to do so.

Mouldy or musty

These type of smells could mean you have sinus issues/infection or that you have respiratory issues. If you think this could be the case, then again, please consult your GP. I have personally smelt this on a couple of people who have respiratory issues and it’s not pleasant.

Acidic or sour

This may indicate issues such as acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) where stomach acids flow back up into the mouth and esophagus. You can prevent acid reflux by maintaining a healthy weight, avoid certain foods like spicy or fatty foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol. Make sure your portion sizes are smaller and you don’t eat anything for a few hours before bed.

Sweet or fruity

Has been described as a smell similar to pear drops, the sweets we may have eaten as children. There are a few reasons for this smell – a high protein, low carb diet, fasting and some mouthwashes which containing sweeteners or fruity flavours.  This smell can also be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis where the body products high levels of bloods acids called ketones so please bear that in mind. My midwife smelt this on me during my pregnancy. All was ok, but they kept a close eye on me.   

Chemical smell

Some drugs or medications can make the breath smell similar to chemicals. Some prescription drugs cause a dry mouth which can cause bad breath – saliva has bad breath fighting properties so it’s important to practice good hygiene but of course speak to your local pharmacist or GP if you are concerned.

Antibiotics for example, though are great at fighting infection can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth leading to an overgrowth which causes bad breath. Again, ensure your oral hygiene is excellent at all times, particularly when taking medicines.

Bad breath can be an annoying side effect of your diet but could also indicate a health issue. Please do speak to your Dentist, Oral Hygienist or GP if you have concerns.