Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Gingivitis and halitosis

2-minute read

Taking care of your mouth helps prevent problems such as dental bleeding, gingivitis (gum disease) and halitosis (bad breath).


Gingivitis is a form of gum disease.

Bleeding gums is a common sign of gingivitis, a disease of the gums. Other symptoms can include tenderness, redness and swelling of the gums.

Gingivitis occurs when plaque builds up on your teeth. Plaque is usually removed by brushing, but if it builds up it can irritate your gums and may cause bleeding and swelling.

Gingivitis can be caused by a number of things, but it is most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene. If you have an existing health condition, such as diabetes, you may be more likely to have oral hygiene problems such as gingivitis.

Without treatment gingivitis can get worse and cause serious problems such as abscesses, receding gums and tooth loss. However, gingivitis is reversible if treated early on.

Halitosis (bad breath)

Halitosis is the medical name for bad breath.

The most common cause of bad breath is tiny food particles trapped in your teeth and mouth. When the natural bacteria in your mouth break down these tiny bits of food, a foul smelling gas is released. This causes bad breath. Good oral hygiene helps prevent bad breath.

Certain medical conditions can also cause bad breath. Other factors causing bad breath include strong-flavoured foods, such as garlic and onion, and smoking.

The best way to get rid of bad breath is to floss regularly, clean your teeth twice a day (including your tounge) and drink plenty of water.

Get advice on mouth care.

Please see your dentist if halitosis persists or you are concerned.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Bad breath (halitosis) -

Most bad breath (halitosis) originates in the mouth and is caused by the breakdown of foodby bacteria. Bad breath is especially common first thing in the morning and doesn't necessarily indi

Read more on myDr website

Gum disease (gingivitis) :: SA Health

Gum disease (gingivitis) affects the gums, bone and the tissue supporting the teeth - care of your gums is as important as care of your teeth

Read more on SA Health website

Bad breath in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network

Its normal for children to have bad breath when they wake up. Sometimes medical issues can cause bad breath. Good dental hygiene usually prevents bad breath.

Read more on website

How Smoking Affects the Mouth | myVMC

Smoking plays a part in several diseases and lesions in the mouth, the most common being gum disease. The chance of dental implant failure is also more common among smokers than among non-smokers.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Bleeding gums -

Bleeding gums are something many people notice when brushing their teeth or flossing, however, healthy gums rarely bleed.

Read more on myDr website

Tooth decay and gum disease

Tooth decay and gum disease are the 2 main types of dental disease, but good oral hygiene can prevent them both.

Read more on WA Health website

Oral healthcare -

Oral health problems include tooth decay, gum disease, mouth ulcers, halitosis, childhood teething and oral thrush. Find out what products are available to promote oral health.

Read more on myDr website

Oral Health and Parkinson's | Parkinson's Australia

Oral health significantly impacts overall health and wellbeing but can be easily overlooked when addressing the symptoms of Parkinson‟s. Evidence-informed guidelines for optimal oral and dental health specific to Parkinson‟s are limited.

Read more on Parkinson's Australia website

Flossing (18-30yrs) - Your Dental Health | Australian Dental Association

Flossing is essential to maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. Information for younger Adults 18 - 30 years.

Read more on ADA – Australian Dental Association website

Bulimia nervosa - Eating Disorders Victoria

Bulimia nervosa differs from binge eating disorder as the binge episodes are associated with a sense of loss of control and are immediately followed by feelings of guilt and shame, which then leads the person to compensatory behaviours i

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo