Why Does My Breath Smells Like Mothballs?

Learn From Doctor Team
Learn From Doctor Team is made up of well-qualified doctors of different fields with brilliant academic results and professional careers. The article is written and reviewed by doctors of this specialty.


It may be intrusive and humiliating to have breath smells like mothballs. Poor oral hygiene is the principle cause of breath smells like mothballs. 

It can called bad breath(halitosis).

Modifying their oral hygiene, diet and lifestyle do not improve their bad breath for some patients. The poor breath may be an early sign of a more severe medical problem in some cases. It is true that not all bad breath has the same scent. This article will address various kinds of bad breath that may warrant the dentist a necessary ride.


Common types of Halitosis(bad breath)

Rotten Eggs

A breath that smells like rotten eggs often suggests a problem originating from the digestive tract. Since sulfur is broken down by the gut microbiota, an eggy-smelling gas is released. This may be caused by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. When the stomach acids crawl back up the esophagus, GERD occurs.

Sweet or Fruity

fruity odor. This happens because diabetic patients often suffer from insufficient insulin output, which induces fat burning and results in ketone production. A fruity odor similar to acetone is then produced by ketones. Chronic kidney disease, which is another symptom of diabetes, may also cause this smell.

Moldy or Fungus Aroma

Microbial buildups, growths, or sinus infections, in some cases, lead to a breath that smells moldy or fungal-like. Sometimes, sinus infections cause thick, yellowish, or green mucus to drip down the back of the throat from the nose. A surplus of bacteria, foreign particles, and metabolites build up as we breathe, resulting in a very unpleasant breathing smell.


As horrible as it might sound, it is very possible that you have an obstructed bowel if your breath smells like fecal matter. When the feces starts to back up, a bowel obstruction happens and the large and/or small intestines are no longer able to absorb the waste. In addition to constipation, breath that smells like feces is a positive indication that you have a blockage of the intestines.


It’s your kidneys that are responsible for urine creation. The kidneys extract contaminants from the blood that are toxic. The contaminants and waste begin to accumulate throughout the body when the kidneys become so weakened that they are no longer able to remove waste. This condition can result in a fishy-smelling breath.

Related Article – Teeth Cleaning and Deep Dental Cleaning 

Read Dry socket – a cause of bad breath 


Breath Smells Like Mothballs Causes

Mothball breath is so-called because one’s breath can smell like mothballs overpoweringly. For both you and your network of friends and relatives, this musty, benzene-like odor can be irritating.

Interestingly, mothball breath can occur slowly over a period of weeks or months, or within a period of days, it may occur unexpectedly. The scent of mothballs can be very intense in more serious situations, requiring immediate care to prevent needless embarrassment.

Oddly, while there are very obvious treatments for many instances of bad breath, mothball breath is quite different from most cases of halitosis and can originate from a wide variety of possible causes.

There is no single cause of mothball breath; a number of different problems may cause it instead. Although some of these may be oral in nature, the musty odor of mothballs on the breath may also result in a variety of various medical problems and dietary impacts.

There appears to be no evidence, in contrast to common belief, that lactose intolerance can lead to breathe that smells like mothballs.

Poor oral hygiene

Mothball breath can be triggered in the mouth by bacteria. On food particles and sloughed mouth cells, these sulfur-producing bacteria flourish. When these food products are digested, they create volatile sulfur compounds (vscs) that can smell like mothballs.

A lack of oral hygiene, or related dental issues such as tooth decay or calculus, is also one of the most common causes of halitosis. Under such conditions, the bacteria are able to replicate rapidly and thus increase the amount of vscs produced. This could make your breath smell like mothballs.

Breath Smells Like Mothballs


Sinus issues, especially in the case of mothball breath, have long been associated with the issue of bad breath.

Sinus infection results in the development of excess proteins that the body fails to break down, but serves as an ideal source of bacteria for food. Often, the secretions themselves can have an unpleasant odor.

These two elements mean that making for malodorous air, VSCs can be breathed out in substantial amounts.


A well-known phenomenon among those involved in a low-carb diet is “Keto breath”. The body burns stored fat instead of burning carbohydrates for food and therefore releases chemicals called “ketones”.
Although ketones appear to smell very rich and fruity (similar to nail polish), some dieters have found that the smell of mothballs resembles their breath.

Conditions in the Kidney

Less generally, halitosis is considered to cause certain kidney disorders. In particular, heavy drinkers can be affected by this possible cause.

Acid Reflux

Though acid reflux (GERD) most often makes its presence felt in the mouth in the form of a sour or bitter taste (thanks to the incorrect positioning of stomach acids), there is some evidence that GERD may also be a causal factor in mothball breath.

Some Foods

Finally, halitosis can also be the culprit behind a number of spicy or pungent foods.

Elements such as onions and garlic, or spicy foods such as curry, may all have a big breathing effect.

Read Mouth Breathing – a cause of bad breath

How to Get Rid of Breath That Smells Like Mothballs

As you can see, it also follows that getting rid of it is not always easy, based on the broad range of potential causes of mothball breath. It’s not to say that it’s impossible; it’s just that you’re going to have to be methodical to tick off one probable cause after another.

Proper oral hygiene routine

Let’s start with the basics; it is wise, to begin with, a detailed and highly efficient routine of cleaning and sterilizing your mouth to rule out the most common cause.

Start twice a day, for at least two minutes at a time, by brushing and flossing.

Add to this regular scratching of your tongue, where you can find several bacteria that contain sulfur.

Finally, make sure to use an appropriate anti-bacterial mouth rinse that will combat the mouth’s bacterial load. This is in contrast to regular deodorizing mouth rinses that merely block the smell.

How to brush your teeth

  • Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled brush 20 minutes after each meal. 
  • The size and shape of your brush should match your mouth and allow the user to access all regions.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 – 4 months, or more often if the bristles are worn down. A worn toothbrush can not effectively clean your teeth.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste that has been approved by the American Dental Association.

Proper brushing techniques

  • Brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Gently back and forth with the brush in quick (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the teeth’ exterior layers, inner part, and chewing floors gently
  • Tilt the brush vertically and make many up-and-down strokes to scrub the inside sides of the front teeth.

Your dentist’s appointment

Just because you don’t feel some pain doesn’t necessarily imply that your mouth doesn’t have any problems. It is a good idea to visit your nearest dentist for a checkup if you are suffering from mothball breath.
Your dentist will be able to look for any problems and recommend successful fixes, such as mild tooth decay or tartar.

Your doctor’s appointment

It also helps to see the General Practitioner due to the fact that many possible causes of mothball breath are health-related, such as sinus infections or kidney problems. Explain the problem that you have encountered, and ask them to look for any apparent causes.

For example, on several occasions, people dealing with severe halitosis learn that they suffer from sinusitis. They are soon back to their old fresh-breathed selves, after a short course of medicine.

Contemplate your diet

Have you recently changed your diet? Have you, for instance, moved to a calorie-reduced diet, or have you started late to enjoy more spicy foods? If so, to see if the mothball breath goes away in time, try removing these variables one by one.

Drink more & stay hydrated 

Your saliva can normally keep the sulfur-producing bacteria that give off unpleasant odors under control. This pH helps battle the build-up, so keep your air fresh during the day.

If the salivary rate decreases, however, so does the capacity of the body to regulate oral bacteria. This is one of the most common causes of the so-called “morning breath,” as when we are sleeping at night, the flow of saliva decreases.

Siping softly on clear water is one of the easiest ways to counteract a shortage of saliva.

So carry a bottle at all times with you and try to keep yourself hydrated during the day. The avoidance of alcohol and cigarettes will also help keep your mouth lubricated properly.

Sugar-Free Gum or Mints chew

The use of gum or mint is one final trick to remember to get rid of breath that smells like mothballs, which not only increases salivary flow but also provides a good masking effect. Alternatively, consider using a breath spray or mouth rinse pouch that can be discreetly placed in a pocket or purse.

However, remember that it can only be considered a short-term remedy to mask your mothball breath; we will encourage you to pursue the proper medical advice to help deal with the root cause of the problem.

You may like to read about Bad Breath on Baby(toddlers)

Read Dental Prophylaxis – Preventive teeth cleaning



Bad breath or Halitosis is not very rare in people. This is humiliating and one should not just take it for granted. Just following some above-mentioned hygiene rules can give you relief from this humiliating condition. 

Never use any medication without consulting a doctor. Thank you. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What would cause breath that smells like mothballs?

There are multiple causes of mothball breath. Poor oral hygiene, some specific odorous food, and underlying medical conditions are the main causes.

What does it mean when your breath smells like mothballs?

Breath smells like mothballs indicate your lifestyle is not hygienic enough or you have one or more underlying medical conditions.

What is mothball breath?

When your breath smells like mothballs throughout the day or sometimes it is called mothball breath. You should consult a doctor to get cured of this condition.

Last Updated on April 11, 2022 by Learn From Doctor Team

Read More

Get in Touch


Latest Posts

DMCA.com Protection Status