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How do I get Rid of Chronic Bad Breath?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Chronic bad breath is also commonly known as halitosis. This condition is often a source of embarrassment for sufferers, leading to distressing social interactions. It can also be a sign of a more serious medical condition. A patient who experiences persistent bad breath should consult with a dentist to determine the source of the problem.

The underlying cause of your chronic bad breath will often determine the course of treatment. Chronic bad breath may be caused by poor oral hygiene. Food particles can stick between your teeth and around the gums. If they are not removed, they can rot, which results in unpleasant odors. You can improve your oral hygiene by getting dental cleanings and check-ups twice per year.

A dentist can demonstrate proper cleaning techniques. Brush the teeth at least twice per day, floss every day, and use a dentist or medically-approved mouthwash. When brushing your teeth, don not neglect to gently scrub your tongue, as odor-causing bacteria often accumulates there. People who wear dentures should follow a dentist’s cleaning instructions carefully to avoid chronic bad breath.

If maintaining good oral hygiene is insufficient to improve halitosis, try keeping a food journal to record what you eat. Some foods, such as garlic and onions, can worsen breath more than others. Consumed foods are absorbed into your bloodstream, transferred to your lungs, where you then breathe it out. So until the body eliminates these foods entirely, the breath will continue to smell unpleasant.

Another possible cause of chronic bad breath is extreme dieting or anorexia. Eating infrequently may contribute to halitosis. Smokers may also experience halitosis. In this case, the solution is to quit smoking.

Chronic bad breath may also be caused by a more serious dental condition, such as xerostomia. This is another name for a significantly dry mouth caused by poor saliva production. When the mouth has an insufficiency of saliva, it is unable to cleanse itself properly. Xerostomia is sometimes caused by certain medications, or by frequently inhaling through the mouth. Increasing fluid consumption may help treat this condition.

Periodontal disease may also cause halitosis. With this condition, the gums are infected and eventually recede, exposing more of the tooth. If left untreated, periodontal disease may result in tooth loss. A dentist or oral surgeon can determine the best way to treat periodontal disease.

Chronic bad breath is normally a treatable condition. Do not avoid going to a dentist if you experience persistent halitosis. In some cases, however, bad breath may have nothing to do with a dental condition, but rather may be a sign of another underlying medical condition. Other medical conditions that may contribute to bad breath include diabetes, an upper respiratory infection, or a liver problem.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By anon236084 — On Dec 21, 2011

One possible reason for bad breath, which you neglected to mention, since most people do not even know about it, is tonsil stones.

Certain people have pockets in their tonsils, and post nasal drip, food, mucus and whatnot accumulates in these pockets and forms yellowish balls. They smell terrible. Even a small one can be horrifically malodorous.

Depending on where the pocket is located (some are behind the tonsil) you can remove them yourself with a Q-tip or long thin instrument to pop them out. Spit them out, and rinse with mouthwash.

I have discovered, after many talks with other sufferers, that eliminating milk was enough to stop the post nasal drip, and hence the formation of these nasty tonsil stones from hell.

Few people know of this, and it is a significant cause of bad breath.

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