Bad Breath

Signs & Symptoms   |    Causes   |    Treatment   |

Questions to Ask   |    Self-Care/Prevention

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Bad breath (halitosis) is a social concern. It can be a health issue, too.

Signs & Symptoms

•  A bad odor from the mouth. To detect this, wipe the back of your tongue with a piece of white, sterile gauze. After 5 minutes, smell the gauze for an odor.

•  An unpleasant taste is in the mouth.

•  You are told you have bad breath.


Bacteria on the tongue, dry mouth, and strong odors of food, such as garlic and onions, are common causes of bad breath. Other causes are smoking, alcohol, ill-fitting dentures, and infections of the gums or teeth. Less often, bad breath is due to another problem, such as a sinus infection or indigestion.

The Self-Care/Prevention items listed on this page treat most cases of bad breath. If not, your dentist can prescribe:

•  A special toothpaste.

•  A mouth rinse.

•  A special brush.

•  A tongue scraper.

•  An antimicrobial solution.

Questions to Ask

Self-Care / Prevention

•  Practice good oral hygiene.

•  If you wear dentures, clean and care for them as advised by your dentist.

•  Don’t smoke. Limit or avoid alcohol.

•  To prevent dry mouth, drink plenty of water and other liquids.

•  Use a baking soda toothpaste. Brush your teeth and tongue. Do this after all meals, if you can. If not, rinse your mouth with water, chew parsley, mint leaves, celery, or carrots after meals.

•  Don’t rely on mouthwash or mints. They mask bad breath and help cause it, because they dry out the mouth. Try chlorophyll tablets.

•  Eat at regular times. Eat nutritious foods. Limit sugary foods.

•  Chew sugarless gum or suck on lemon or other citrus drops. These help make saliva. Saliva helps deal with bacteria on the teeth and washes away food particles.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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