Do you have morning breath that doesn’t go away? Everyone has bad breath, also known as halitosis, sometimes, especially in the morning. Estimates are that 50% of the population commonly experiences halitosis.1
But if your bad breath doesn’t go away, or if you’ve noticed that your breath is getting worse, it could be a sign of an underlying problem. Chronic halitosis, or bad breath, has many causes. Figuring out what’s causing your chronic bad breath is the first step in curing halitosis.
What is halitosis?
Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath that doesn’t go away.2 It’s a strong unpleasant odor that occurs in the mouth when bacteria builds up in the mouth. That bacteria causes the bad odor associated with halitosis.
Everyone has bad breath occasionally, especially in the morning or after eating pungent foods like onions. But people who have lingering bad breath that doesn’t get better after brushing teeth or using a mouthwash could have a more serious dental or medical problem that is causing halitosis.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath is a very common symptom associated with different behaviors and products so it can be tough to figure out what is causing your bad breath. It’s possible that your bad breath is being caused by several different factors. The most common causes of halitosis are:3
- Smoking/vaping: Smoking or vaping dries out the tissues in your mouth and causes your mouth to produce less saliva. Saliva is what keeps your mouth clean and healthy so when you don’t produce enough saliva, bacteria builds up in your mouth and causes bad breath. Low levels of saliva combined with the chemicals in cigarettes and vape juice can cause chronic bad breath.
- Dry mouth: Dry mouth doesn’t just happen to people that smoke or vape. Dry mouth is very common and can be caused by everything from dry winter air to medications that you take for common medical problems. Mouth breathing, sleeping on your back, and other behaviors can also cause dry mouth. Saliva washes away harmful bacteria that can cause odor, so making sure that your mouth is producing enough saliva is essential to prevent bad breath.
- Dental problems: Cavities, gum disease, plaque buildup, and other dental problems are also common causes for bad breath. If you notice that your breath is getting worse or if you notice that your breath has a particularly noxious smell you shouldn’t wait to have a dentist check to see if there is a serious problem with your teeth or your gums.
- Poor dental hygiene: Poor dental hygiene practices are another common cause of bad breath. If you’re not brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing regularly, and rinsing your mouth with bacteria-reducing oral rinses you could be contributing to your halitosis. People often get lazy about their dental hygiene if they work at home, or if they are caring for children and are very busy all day every day, or if they are getting older and find it difficult to keep up a thorough dental hygiene practice. Making oral hygiene a priority will help get rid of chronic bad breath.
- Diseases: Bad breath can be a symptom of a serious disease like diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease or gastric reflux. If your bad breath isn’t going away and you have other symptoms of these illnesses like being thirsty all the time, you should see your doctor to rule out a medical cause for your halitosis.
How to get rid of bad breath and keep it from returning
The best thing that you can do to prevent bad breath is drink a lot of water. Dry mouth is one of the most common causes of bad breath and you can lower your chances of getting bad breath or eliminate it all together just be staying hydrated. Other effective home remedies for getting rid of bad breath are:4
- Use a humidifier to moisten the air
- Clean your tongue
- Avoid acidic and sugary foods that can cause bacteria to grow in your mouth
- Use sugar free lozenges to increase saliva production
- Use a dry mouth rinse or spray
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Stop smoking/vaping
- Drink ginger tea
- Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day
- Use a bacteria killing oral rinse daily
- Sleep on your side
- Breathe through your nose
Dental solutions for bad breath
There are things that you can do to help relieve your bad breath but ultimately you need to take care of the cause to stop it completely. If you brush and floss your teeth regularly but you still have really bad breath that isn’t going away, you should see a dentist to rule out an underlying dental problem. Cavities, gingivitis, gum disease and excessive plaque can all cause serious bad breath and they are problems that need to be treated by an experienced dentist.5
Often people who don’t have dental insurance skip regular dental care because of the cost. Missing those regular cleanings, X rays, and diagnostic procedures can result in halitosis or even bigger dental problems. When you don’t get your teeth cleaned regularly bacteria builds up in your mouth from food particles, plaque, and other debris that isn’t getting cleaned out of your mouth.
If the cost of regular cleanings is what is keeping you from getting routine dental care consider enrolling in dental insurance that will help cover the cost of that routine care and help pay for fillings and other treatments that can get rid of bad breath and keep your teeth healthy and strong. Regular deep cleanings, getting cavities filled before they become a problem and having a dentist examine your gums and teeth at least twice a year can prevent it from recurring.6
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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. It is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.