Causes foreigners to think Japanese people have bad breath


Japanese people are concerned about the body odor of foreigners, but conversely, foreigners are concerned about the halitosis of Japanese people.

Apparently, there is an image that Japanese have little body odor but bad breath.

In this article, we will thoroughly analyze the reasons why such an image is formed.
In addition, we will examine a wide range of topics, including Japanese people’s awareness of halitosis, the current state of countermeasures, and suggestions for the future.

Foreigner’s Review and Experiences of Japanese Halitosis

This is not limited to Japanese people, but just a reference that there are opinions like this.

  • When riding a crowded train, I often feel my uncle’s bad breath. Sometimes I can’t stand it and get off at the next station.
  • When talking with a Japanese business partner in a business meeting, I could not concentrate because I was bothered by his bad breath.
  • When I pointed out my bad breath to my Japanese friend, he was very surprised and shocked.
  • I went on a date with a Japanese woman, but I hesitated to kiss her because of her bad breath. I did as a result, though.
  • I feel that Japanese people have low awareness of bad breath care.
  • Japanese probably don’t even notice their own bad breath.

Reasons why Japanese are often thought to have bad breath.

Oral care habits

In Western countries, brushing and flossing the teeth at least twice a day is recommended.
However, most Japanese brush their teeth only once a day, and those who floss are in the minority.
The rate of regular checkups is also lower than in Western countries, indicating a difference in awareness of oral care.

  • Brushing once a day does not adequately remove plaque and tartar, which causes bad breath.
  • By not flossing, stains accumulate between the teeth and in periodontal pockets, causing bad breath.
  • By not receiving regular checkups, diseases that cause bad breath, such as tooth decay and gum disease, are not detected and treated early.

Dietary habits

Compared to Western countries, the Japanese diet is characterized by a high use of seafood and spices, which tend to produce volatile sulfur compounds that cause halitosis.
They also snack more frequently than Western countries, which may cause bad breath to persist for a longer period of time.

  • Trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) in seafood is decomposed by intestinal bacteria into volatile sulfur compounds (VSC), which cause halitosis.
  • Allyl sulfide in spices is a type of volatile sulfur compound that causes halitosis.
  • Snacking between meals leaves food debris and sugar in the mouth, causing bacteria to proliferate, resulting in bad breath.

*This varies greatly from person to person.

Other factors

Stress, smoking, aging, and dry mouth can also cause bad breath.
In recent years, more and more people suffer from stress-induced halitosis in Japan, which is known as a stressful society.
In addition, with the aging of the population, age-related halitosis is also on the rise.

  • Stress: Stress hormones decrease saliva secretion, causing oral dryness and resulting in halitosis.
  • Smoking: Toxic substances in cigarette smoke deteriorate the oral environment and cause halitosis.
  • Aging: Decreased saliva production causes oral dryness, resulting in halitosis.
  • Oral dryness: Decreased saliva secretion and self-cleansing of the mouth, resulting in halitosis.

Awareness of halitosis among the Japanese and the current situation

Past surveys have shown that about 80% of Japanese are interested in halitosis care.
However, only about half of the respondents actually take measures to prevent halitosis, indicating a gap between awareness and action.

  • About 80% of respondents think that bad breath makes others uncomfortable.
  • About 70% are concerned about their own bad breath.
  • About 60% of respondents take some kind of action to take care of their bad breath.

In recent years, the market for halitosis prevention goods has been expanding, and interest in halitosis care is growing.
However, compared to Western countries, the percentage of patients visiting halitosis outpatient clinics is low, and the number of people receiving professional treatment is still small.

  • The market for halitosis prevention goods is worth approximately 10 billion yen per year.
  • The consultation rate at halitosis outpatient clinics is about 2%.
  • The number of dental clinics specializing in halitosis care is still small.

Can the halitosis problem among the Japanese be improved?

The problem of halitosis among the Japanese is caused by a complex interplay of dietary habits, oral care practices, and other factors.
Solutions will require increased awareness at the individual level and a society-wide commitment to halitosis care.


Improving Dietary Habits

Abstain from aromatic and stimulating foods.

  • Avoid strongly aromatic vegetables such as garlic, green onions, and kimchi.
  • Refrain from cooking with a lot of spices.

Eating fermented foods

  • Combine fermented foods such as natto and kimchi with other foods rather than eating them alone.
  • Eat foods containing lactic acid bacteria such as yogurt together with fermented foods.

Improve oral care habits

Correct tooth brushing.

  • Move the toothbrush in small increments to thoroughly remove plaque.
  • Use an interdental brush or dental floss to remove stains between teeth and in periodontal pockets.

Use of Floss/Dental Floss

  • Floss/dental floss once a day after brushing teeth.
  • Learn proper use of floss/dental floss.

Periodic checkups

  • Have a regular checkup at the dentist’s office once every six months.
  • Receive early detection and early treatment of cavities and periodontal disease.

Stress relief

Moderate exercise.

  • Aerobic exercise such as walking and jogging for about 30 minutes 3-5 times a week.
  • Do relaxation exercises such as stretching and yoga every day.

Adequate sleep

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep daily.
  • Avoid using smartphones and computers before bed.


  • Take up a hobby that you enjoy, such as listening to music, reading, or playing sports.
  • Spend time relaxing, such as interacting with pets.

Consult a specialist

Consult an outpatient halitosis clinic.

  • Have the cause of halitosis professionally diagnosed.
  • Receive halitosis treatment.

Balm odors treatment at a dental clinic.

  • Resolve oral problems that cause halitosis, such as removal of tartar, treatment of cavities, and periodontal disease.
  • Receive oral care instruction to prevent halitosis.

Proposals for the Future

Strengthen halitosis care instruction in school education.

  • Learn about the causes of halitosis and how to prevent it in health and physical education classes in elementary and junior high schools.
  • Acquire correct knowledge of halitosis care.

Promotion of halitosis prevention measures at companies.

  • Hold seminars for employees on halitosis care.
  • Distribute halitosis prevention goods to employees.
  • Provide counseling and treatment support to employees whose work is affected by halitosis.

Enhance the dissemination of information on oral health care.

  • Disseminate information on halitosis care via TV, radio, the Internet, etc.
  • Conduct educational activities on halitosis care.
  • Spread correct knowledge about halitosis care.


The contents of this article are for reference only.
If you are concerned about bad breath, we recommend that you see a dentist.

Have a good life!