Halitosis, or commonly called bad breath, is the outcome of poor dental health habits, but it can also be due to certain underlying health problems. The things will become worse when you eat specific types of food and maintain other unhealthy lifestyle habits. A good example is that you experience mothball breath when you are on a low-carbohydrate diet. If you say, "My breath smells like mothballs", this could be due to many other conditions, including GERD or sinusitis. It is important to get touch with your doctor to find the exact cause and rule out the possibility of certain serious conditions that may show some symptoms.

Breath Smells like Mothballs: Why?

Breath that smells like mothballs falls under the category of halitosis, and it could be due to a number of different reasons. Once you know the exact cause, it will become easier to find a right treatment option.

Poor Dental Hygiene

This is obvious, isn't it? If you're not flossing and brushing your teeth regularly, the end result will be breath that smells like mothballs. It is equally important to take proper care of your dental appliances or dentures, such as braces, or else the food particles will cling to these dental appliances and cause bad breath over time. You may also have to deal with localized infections or sores when you have loose-fitting dentures. Preventing these infections will substantially reduce your bad breath.



The particles of what you eat will remain in your mouth until you floss or brush your teeth. You notice foul odors when these particles rot in the mouth. Sometimes, these food particles lead to a bacterial infection that will lead to mothballs breath. The bacteria may also cause gum disease and tooth decay.

Similarly, eating foods with strong odors will have an impact on your breath – some of the most common culprits are exotic spices, garlic, onions, fish, some cheeses, and acidic beverages. After being absorbed in the bloodstream, these foods will then be transferred to your lungs and cause noticeable odors when you exhale air out of your mouth. These foods are also associated with gastrointestinal upset and belching that may also be the reason why your breath smells like mothballs. Lastly, you may notice a fruity acetone-like odor if you're on low-carbohydrate diets.


Medical Disorders

So many medical disorders can be the underlying cause of your mothballs breath. Interestingly, some disorders don't have a direct relation with halitosis, like sinusitis, but they can definitely contribute to mothball breath. Some of the most common medical disorders causing bad breath are chronic bronchitis, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, chronic sinusitis, infection in the respiratory tract, and postnasal drip. Sometimes, your breath smells like mothballs when you have a gum or periodontal infection, tonsillitis, or Sjogren's syndrome.



The medications you may be using for years may well be the reason behind your breath that smells like mothballs. Some people don't know that some medications used to treat bad breath can cause mothballs breath when taken for long. What it actually means is that using certain medications will produce side effects and the side of these medications will cause bad breath and contribute to taste disorders as well. One of the common side effects of antidepressants or antihistamines is dry mouth that always contributes to bad breath. Medications used to treat hypertension may also cause halitosis or breath that smells like mothballs.

Breath Smells like Mothballs: What Can Be Done?

If you don't want to deal with a problem like bad breath or your breath smells like mothballs already, you can take certain steps to correct this problem and even prevent it from disturbing you in the first place.

Brush Your Teeth After You Eat

It cannot get any simpler than this. Under no circumstances should you be skipping brushing and flossing. In fact, you should use some fluoride-containing toothpaste and brush at least a couple of times every day, especially after your meals. Some toothpaste has antibacterial properties, so you may consider using them if your breath smells like mothballs due to an infection.


Floss Regularly

You should floss at least once every day to prevent plaque and food particles from sticking between your teeth. This will greatly help control the quality of your breath.


Brush Your Tongue

Never forget to brush your tongue when you brush your teeth. Your tongue provides bacteria an environment to thrive, so you need to brush it well to reduce odors. You may even consider using a tongue scraper if you've been smoking and have a significant overgrowth of bacteria on your tongue. You can even find a toothbrush with built-in tongue cleaner.


Clean Your Dental Appliances

You should clean your complete denture or bridge regularly to prevent mouth odors. It is equally important to clean your mouth guard or dental retainer every time you put it in your mouth. Talk to your dentist to find the best cleaning product.


Avoid Dry Mouth

Be sure to drink plenty of water daily to help keep your mouth moist. You should also avoid tobacco, soft drinks, coffee, and alcohol because they will all cause a drier mouth that will make your breath smell bad. You can even consider sucking on sugarless candies or gums to stimulate saliva. Using an oral medication may be a good idea if you have chronic dry mouth.


See Your Doctor

If you have already started brushing/flossing and taken steps to prevent dry mouth but your breath smells like mothballs, it is time to see your dentist. They will take certain tests and perform an oral examination to find the exact cause of the odor.


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