Stress and Bad Breath – How are They Interrelated?

Bad breath is one of the first signs of poor oral health that cannot be ignored easily. Chronic halitosis is a prevalent oral health issue among the American population at present.

Dental health experts say that one of the prime cause of having bad breath is mental stress. Excessive stress usually decreases salivary production in the mouth.


Furthermore, it can cause chronic dry mouth. Dry mouth instantly makes the mouth susceptible to bacterial growth and plaque accumulation.

Oral bacteria often draw their nutrition from impacted food particles in between the teeth and gums. In a healthy mouth, saliva acts as a protective agent and flushes out the food particles and plaque from the surface of the teeth. (1)

However, in case of dry mouth, lack of saliva becomes an added advantage for the bacteria to ferment the food particles and produce halitosis.

Stress reduction therapies and relaxation exercises play an essential role in controlling mental pressure and maintaining good oral health and well-being.

Once the stress is under control, bad breath can be easily treated by following specific preventive dental measures.

If you relate to any of these symptoms, this article will accurately tell you how to get rid of your stress-induced bad breath.

What is halitosis or bad breath?

Bad breath is an unpleasant, persistent foul odor present in the mouth. Usually, bad breath is a temporary oral issue which can be treated by diagnosing the cause. (2)

Bad breath is a widespread side effect of psychological distress. Among the current population, every one in four people suffers from halitosis or bad breath.

However, simple home remedies and preventive methods can prove useful in terms of eliminating this oral health issue.

How can stress cause bad breath?

Stress has become a global issue that negatively impacts our general health and causes heart diseases, anxiety, depression, and many more associated problems. (3)

Moreover, stress contributes to poor oral hygiene and causes gum diseases, bad breath, and oral ulcers.

Let’s get into the details of how stress causes bad breath –

  • During stressful situations, our body reacts by activating the sympathetic nervous system as a protective mechanism.
  • The sympathetic system is the prime source of fight or flight response. In cases of chronic stress, this mechanism is prolonged for a long time. During this period, the body energy is conserved by shutting down digestive functions including saliva production.
  • Saliva is an essential constituent to maintain moisture in the mouth. Additionally, saliva allows easier digestion and flushes away food particles, plaque, and bacteria from the surface of the teeth.
  • Lack of saliva acts as a counter turn over these events. It makes the mouth dry and increases bacterial load in the mouth. These bacteria ferment the food particles stuck in the teeth and produce a foul smell.
  • Excessive stress levels and failure to release stress from the mind can lead to chronic dry mouth and permanent halitosis.

How can you reduce stress and its effects on oral health?

Stress has become an unavoidable part of everyone’s daily life. Adapting specific stress releasing exercises can help to avoid unnecessary oral health consequences.

By following the two easy steps mentioned below, you can reduce stress and live a healthier life –

Lifestyle modification

One of the significant habits that people develop during stress is eating sugary food. Limited these habits can take you a long way in living a healthy life –

  • Start by replacing sweet food and drinks with fresh fruits and vegetables. A staple diet keeps the mind healthy and exquisite.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Quit smoking to contribute to healthy gums and teeth
  • Alcohol and tobacco also contribute to dry mouth which is a prime cause terrible breath. Avoiding them can help you to maintain good oral hygiene.

Relaxation exercise

Stress release and fitness exercises are excellent for a healthy mind and body. Activities such as yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation have proved to be beneficial. (4)

Studies show that relaxation therapies increases endorphin production and allows the individual to handle stressful situations effectively. As a result, it makes your health and oral care better.

What can you do to improve your bad breath?

Since bad breath is a temporary oral problem, it can be easily treated by simple home-based preventive measures –

  • Robust oral health regime – regular tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste for at least two times a day helps to eradicate plaque and bacteria from the mouth. Additionally, flossing in between the teeth at least once in a day ensures complete cleaning of the teeth and gums.
  • Use a mouthwash – the addition of an anti-bacterial mouthwash can add the benefit of providing you a minty fresh breath. Stay away from alcohol based mouthwash solutions as they may cause dry mouth.
  • Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day
  • Rinse your mouth with water after every meal. This helps to get rid of the food particles that may have gotten stuck between the teeth and masks the odor of the food you just ate.
  • Chewing on sugar-free gums can increase salivary flow in the mouth and also provide fresh breath.
  • Regular dental visits are necessary to keep a check on your oral hygiene.

Take away message

As stress is increasing to be a potential factor in decreasing quality of life, its oral health consequences are equally devastating.

Bad breath caused by excessive stress not only puts you in a socially awkward situation but also negatively impacts your oral health.

Stress leads to a series of oral health issues, starting from dry mouth, gum disease, oral ulcerations to bad breath.

The best way to tackle these situations and live a healthy life is by reducing stress through lifestyle modifications and relaxation therapies.


Once the stress is controlled, bad breath can be easily treated by following particular home-based preventive oral care methods.

You can also visit your dentist and get advice on stress release and maintenance of oral hygiene. Always stay informed and live healthily.


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