Types and causes of bad breath in adults

Did you know that different types of bad breath can indicate several diseases? 

More than 90% of the time, bad breath occurs due to the protein breakdown in the mouth. When there’s an underlying oral problem, bad breath is caused by the breakdown of cysteine. Usually, that is the result of poor oral hygiene. In a rare case, bad breath can be caused by certain imbalances in the mouth due to protein breakdown.

If bad breath is caused by underlying oral health concern, the first thing you need to do is to get a dental exam from a dental clinic in Dubai (or whichever city you live in). Many people ignore bad breath and hope that it will go away on its own. Although it can clear on its own with simple daily oral hygiene, it can become worse if it’s caused by a disease.

Types of bad breath

During a dental exam, your dentists can identify the type of breath you have and be able to pinpoint the underlying cause. Following are the different types of bad breath associated with different health issues:

  • A cheesy bad breath indicates a nasal problem.
  • A fishy breath may indicate a kidney problem (increased levels of urea are known to cause fishy breath).
  • A fruit-like smell could be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes.
  • An acidic bad breath could be a cause of cystic fibrosis.
  • A musty odor may indicate liver cirrhosis.
  • And a fecal bad breath could be a cause of bowel obstruction.

Types of bad breath caused by an underlying disease

Following are the most common types of bad breath that indicate a serious health concern:

Tonsil breath

Tonsillitis may be the cause of bad breath that can be chronic or acute. In this case, bad breath is accompanied by a sore throat and high fever.

Metabolic breath

Also known as Ketone breath, metabolic breath is a sign that your body is burning fat for energy. This usually happens to people who are on a low-carb diet.

Sinus breath

Bad breath caused due to a microbial build is referred to as the sinus breath. Sinus infections can sometimes cause noxious odors.

Liver breath

In a rare case, liver failure can be a cause of halitosis. The bad breath, in this case, can be described as musty.

Gut breath

Your digestive system can cause various types of bad breath.  In general, the bad breath caused by the gut is a sign of digestive imbalance.

Trimethylaminuria breath

TMAU, also known as a fish-odor syndrome, is known to cause a fishy odor.

Menstrual breath

According to some research, women may experience menstrual breath before and during their period. This usually goes away after the period is over.


Some people have an extreme fear of bad breath which causes social anxiety. Around 25% of people who suffer from halitosis also suffer from halitophobia. 

Lung breath

Lung infections and various lung conditions such as pulmonary abscess, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and emphysema can cause bad breath.

Drug breath

In many instances, bad breath can also be caused due to several medications, including medicines for acne, depression, allergies, pain, and hypertension.

If bad breath doesn’t respond to improved oral hygiene, you need to talk to your doctor right away to make sure it isn’t caused by any underlying disease.