Medical Q&As

Bad breath - from skipping meals?

My wife tells me that when I have skipped lunch she can tell by the odour of my breath. This has been going on now for a few months and never happened before. My oral health is good, no bleeding gums or tooth decay or any pain. Any thoughts on this?

If you skip meals you produce less saliva and end up with a dry mouth. A dry mouth creates the perfect environmental conditions for bacteria to flourish, which in turn can generate odour from the breath. If you skip meals make sure that you still drink sufficient water because this will help to keep your mouth moist and will also help to stimulate saliva production. Saliva acts as a mouthwash in addition to helping with the digestion of the food we eat. This “mouthwash effect” helps to moisten the mouth and eliminate bacteria that generate volatile sulphur compounds that generate the bad smell we associate with halitosis. It is also worth noting that many types of toothpaste make the mouth dry, which paradoxically can give rise to bad breath. You can learn more about halitosis or bad breath by reading our special feature on this subject, which you can access at: