Eliminate Bad Breath

Chronic halitosis, more frequently known as bad breath, is a problem for a lot of people. It has a variety of  causes, but several solutions can help you conquer this embarrassing problem. Most often, bad breath is caused by protein breakdown in the mouth. A common misconception is that chronic bad breath comes from a stomach problem but this is not the case. Odor may be released when you breathe if you have eaten something pungent like garlic, but these are considered food odors, not bad breath. Chances are, if the air you are exhaling has been affected by something you ate, you will notice it. However, if you suffer from halitosis, your sense of smell will adjust and you may no longer realize it.

You can do a self-test to check for bad breath by licking your hand, waiting for it to dry, and checking the odor. Other ways of checking for bad breath are by smelling a piece of used floss, checking the back of your tongue for discoloration or using a device called a Halimeter that measures the volatile sulfur compounds in the mouth. (Speak with your dentist if you would like to try this device.)  Another simple but infrequently- used method of checking for bad breath is asking someone you trust to be honest with you about the condition.


The culprit of bad breath is typically found on the tongue’s surface, beneath the gum line, or wedged between teeth. The bacteria that tends to build up in these places creating an unhealthy environment in the mouth, leading to bad breath and a variety of other oral health problems. Many of these bacteria are naturally occurring and simply need to be controlled with good dental health. Using a tongue scraper or brushing your tongue, as well as flossing are some of the best methods available for reducing the effects of bad breath.The goal is to keep the volatile sulfur compounds in the mouth as low as possible. Sulfur compounds are excreted by the bacteria that normally occurs in the mouth. Dentists call them volatile because they break down so quickly.

There are certain instances where bad breath may be a sign of a more serious health problem. First of all, poor oral health is linked to poor overall health. If you are not caring for your teeth, or your efforts are not enough, it may be a sign of a more serious problem. Bad breath may be connected to infections in the lungs, throat, tonsils or sinuses. It may be a sign of diabetes, kidney, or liver failure. Those with eating disorders or metabolic disorders may find it challenging to keep their breath fresh. Also, if you engage in fasting for spiritual or health reasons, you may find breath to be unpleasant during certain phases of the fast.

If you are suffering from bad breath, try one of the following remedies:

  • Quit smoking: Smokers have smoker’s breath. They smell like cigarettes, which can be offensive to non-smokers. In addition, it can create more serious problems in the mouth which will lead to bad breath and ongoing health difficulties.
  • Keep your mouth moist: Drink a lot of water so you can wash the bacteria and built-up food particles away, even when you are unable to brush or floss.
  • Speak with your dentist and doctor about possible infections: Your dentist will need to rule out oral problems, and your doctor will need to give you a complete physical. Once the problem is determined, take the appropriate measures to cure or get it under control.

Getting patients to understand the connection between bad breath and poor dental health makes it easier to help them prevent halitosis. If they realize that caring for their teeth is the most important factor in preventing bad breath, it will be easier to help them solve their problem. While different geographical regions may be unique in their willingness to cope with bad breath and other dental problems, Dr. Farshad Bakhtyari believes patients in the New England and Mid-Atlantic areas are similar. “Both populations of patients are aware of the importance of good oral health, making patient education much simpler.  The advances in dental technology are readily available in both states, so I’m pretty happy practicing here in Northern Virginia.”

Most of the time, curing bad breath is as simple as improving your oral health routine. If you find yourself suffering from unpleasant breath, examine your current routine, add flossing and tongue scraping as necessary, and speak with your dentist about additional treatments that may be necessary.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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