Visit your dentist for regular check-ups
Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can negatively affect your social image. People with bad breath may be perceived as less attractive or socially desirable. They may also be avoided or mocked at because of their bad breath. All this can lead to low self-esteem, social isolation, and embarrassment. Therefore, practicing good oral hygiene and addressing any underlying causes of bad breath is important to maintain good social relationships and a positive self-image.
What causes bad breath?
Possible causes of bad breath include:
- Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing teeth or tongue regularly can allow bacteria to grow in the mouth, producing bad-smelling substances.
- Dry mouth: Saliva helps to cleanse the mouth and remove bacteria, so if you have a dry mouth, you may be more prone to bad breath.
- Certain foods: Some foods and drinks, such as garlic, onions, and coffee, can contribute to bad breath.
- Tobacco products: Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause bad breath and increase your risk of other oral health problems.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as sinus infections, throat infections, and acid reflux, can cause bad breath.
What is chronic bad breath?
Chronic bad breath is a persistent and long-lasting condition where a person consistently has an unpleasant breath odor. It is not a temporary issue that can be resolved by brushing teeth or using mouthwash, but rather an ongoing issue that requires medical treatment. Various factors, including oral hygiene issues, gum disease, dry mouth, certain medications, and certain medical conditions, can cause chronic bad breath.
What are the causes of chronic bad breath?
Several causes of bad breath do not go away, including:
- Poor oral hygiene: Bacteria build-up because of not brushing teeth or tongue can lead to bad breath.
- Gum disease: Without timely treatment, gum disease can cause an infection and inflammation in the gums, causing bad breath.
- Dry mouth: Saliva helps to neutralize bacteria and remove food particles from the mouth. Bacteria can grow and cause bad breath if you have a dry mouth.
- Smoking or tobacco use: Smoking or using tobacco products can cause bad breath and damage your teeth and gums.
- Eating certain foods: Foods like onions and garlic can cause bad breath, and other foods high in sulfur.
- Alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol can lead to dry mouth and bad breath.
Which diseases may cause chronic bad breath?
Some specific diseases that can cause chronic bad breath include:
- Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can cause an increase in ketones, which can produce a fruity or acetone-like breath smell.
- Kidney disease: When the kidneys are not functioning properly, they may not filter out toxins and waste products efficiently, leading to an ammonia-like breath smell.
- Liver disease: When the liver is not functioning well, it may not produce enough bile, leading to a musty or metallic breath smell.
- Sinus infections: Sinus infections can cause nasal congestion and postnasal drip, leading to a bad breath smell.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause can cause changes in the mouth and throat that can lead to bad breath.
Can medication cause chronic bad breath?
Several medications can cause chronic bad breath:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics such as tetracycline and penicillin can alter the balance of bacteria in the mouth and cause bad breath.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs can cause dry mouth, leading to bad breath.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): PPIs are used to treat acid reflux and are known to cause bad breath.
- Nasal decongestants: Nasal decongestants can cause dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath.
- Certain asthma medications: Some asthma medications, such as theophylline, can cause bad breath.
- Blood pressure medications: Some blood pressure medications, such as ACE inhibitors, can cause dry mouth, leading to bad breath.
- Antidepressants: Xerostomia is a common side effect of several antidepressant medications. It can cause bad breath because it decreases the production of saliva. Resultantly, it affects the self-cleansing and odor-neutralizing capability of the mouth. Antidepressants that may cause dry mouth and potentially lead to bad breath include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
If you are taking an antidepressant and experiencing chronic bad breath, visit your dentist for a regular check-up. They may recommend using artificial saliva products or increasing your water intake to help alleviate dry mouth.
What is the treatment for chronic bad breath?
- Improving oral hygiene: Proper oral hygiene, including brushing teeth and tongue twice a day, using mouthwash, and flossing daily, can help reduce bad breath.
- Treating dental issues: Dental issues like gum disease, cavities, or infected teeth can cause bad breath. Treating these issues can help improve breath odor.
- Using breath fresheners: Mouthwashes and breath fresheners can help temporarily mask bad breath.
- Changing diet: Some foods and drinks, such as onions, garlic, and coffee, can contribute to bad breath. Limiting these foods and beverages may help improve breath odor.
- Treating underlying medical conditions: Chronic bad breath may be caused by sinus infections, acid reflux, or dry mouth. Treating these conditions may help improve breath odor.
- Using medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics, can cause bad breath as a side effect. Changing medications or adjusting the dosage may help improve breath odor.
What medications does the dentist prescribe for chronic bad breath?
Dentists may prescribe the following for chronic bad breath:
- Antibiotics: If the cause of bad breath is a bacterial infection in the mouth, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
- Mouthwashes: Some mouthwashes contain antimicrobial agents that can help kill bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Probiotics: These supplements contain beneficial bacteria that can help balance the bacteria in the mouth and improve breath.
- Acid reflux medications: If acid reflux is causing bad breath, the dentist may prescribe medications such as proton pump inhibitors to reduce acid production in the stomach.
- Chlorhexidine gluconate: This antimicrobial mouthwash can help kill bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Fluoride: Fluoride can help strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay, which can help improve bad breath.
- Dry mouth medications: If dry mouth is causing bad breath, the dentist may prescribe medications to increase saliva production in the mouth.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing bad breath while taking any of these medications.