Bad breath affects most people at one point or another. Usually keeping up with brushing and flossing is enough to keep bad breath at bay. Bad breath that won't go away is called chronic halitosis, a condition that affects an estimated 60 million people in the United States. Here's how to handle a few bad breath causes:
Cause: Certain foods, such as garlic (the biggest offender) and onions, can cause bad breath that doesn't disappear with brushing or mouthwash. This is because particles of food are absorbed into the bloodstream and transferred to the lungs as food is digested. You can continue to breathe out these molecules until the food has been completely digested, causing bad breath that can't be masked.
Fix: While there are many home remedies to fixing garlic breath, such as eating a teaspoon of mustard, vegetables, or mint tea, the only way to totally avoid it is to avoid eating smelly foods in general.
Cause: Bacteria is normal and can fester inside your mouth for a variety of reasons, causing very bad breath.
Fix: Eat yogurt! A Japanese study discovered that plain yogurt eaten every day can change the environment in your mouth to eliminate bad breath caused by bacteria. This is because plain yogurt contains healthy probiotics that help replace the harmful bacteria that cause bad breath, gum disease, and cavities.
Cause: Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can be caused by sleeping with your mouth open, smoking, chewing tobacco, dehydration, nerve damage, or as a side effect of certain medications and medical conditions. Besides an uncomfortable dryness in your throat and mouth, this can cause chronic bad breath and increase your risk of gingivitis, tooth decay, and mouth infections. Since saliva is necessary in rinsing away bacteria in your mouth, dry mouth allows this bacteria to hang around and continue producing foul odors.
Fix: If your dry mouth is caused by a medication, speak to your doctor to find a solution. There are oral rinses that can be prescribed to restore moisture in your mouth as well as medications that stimulate saliva production. Easier solutions to dry mouth are: chew sugar free gum, drink plenty of water (at least 2 liters a day!), and use a room vaporizer at night to add moisture to the air while you're sleeping.
Cause: Gum disease can cause persistent bad breath that won't go away with brushing. If left untreated, gum disease can cause permanent damage to your teeth, gums, and jaw bone.
Fix: See your dentist, gum disease will have to be treated with a series of very thorough cleanings and antibiotics.