Bad breath

Bad breath (sometimes called halitosis) is very common. You can usually treat it yourself.

How to treat bad breath yourself

The best way of making sure you do not have bad breath is to keep your teeth, tongue and mouth clean.


  • gently brush your teeth and gums at least twice a day for 2 minutes

  • use a fluoride toothpaste

  • gently clean your tongue once a day using a tongue scraper or cleaner

  • clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss at least once a day

  • get regular dental check-ups

  • keep dentures clean and remove them at night

  • use sugar-free mints or chewing gum after having strong-smelling food and drinks

  • try using an antibacterial mouthwash or toothpaste


  • do not smoke

  • do not rinse your mouth with water straight after brushing your teeth

  • do not have lots of sugary foods and drinks

  • do not brush so hard your gums or tongue bleed

Causes of bad breath

Causes of bad breath include:

Non-urgent advice: See a dentist if you have:

  • bad breath that does not go away after treating it yourself for a few weeks
  • painful, bleeding or swollen gums
  • toothache or wobbly adult teeth
  • problems with your dentures

Page last reviewed: 7 December 2021
Next review due: 7 December 2024