Halitosis: Chronic Bad Breath And You

By Matthew Cenzon. May 7th 2016

Many people aren't familiar with the term "halitosis," but they are familiar with the term "bad breath." Halitosis is actually the medical term used to describe chronic bad breath. Yes, bad breath can be a chronic condition that can be caused by more than just a plate of garlic bread or eating too many onions. Here is a complete guide to this medical condition, with steps to alleviate bad breath and keep your mouth smelling fresh and clean.

Symptoms And Causes Of Halitosis

The most obvious symptom of bad breath is emitting a foul smelling odor from the oral cavity. The odor is entirely dependent on the cause of one's bad breath:

  • The food you eat can cause chronic bad breath. Certain foods that carry a strong aroma or odor, like onions or garlic, can cause bad breath.
  • Poor oral hygiene. Not brushing your teeth often or not brushing them properly can lead to chronic bad breath. If you do not floss, you can also suffer from bad breath, even if you brush your teeth regularly.
  • Drinking alcohol.While certain drinks can be responsible for your bad breath, there are none that are as potent as alcohol. Consuming alcohol, no matter what type or variety, can leave your breath with a distinctive odor.
  • Smoking breath. If you smoke, your breath will have a distinctive smell that most people will find to be very unpleasant.
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia) can cause bad breath.The amount of saliva in your mouth can help prevent bad breath by flushing any particles that may cause a foul odor.
  • A fruity breath could mean diabetes. If your breath has a distinctive, fruity smell, your body may be excreting extra acetone when you breathe. This is a potential sign of diabetes.
  • Fishy-smelling breath can be a sign of kidney failure. If you are emitting a fishy, ammonia-like odor from your breath, this could be a sign of kidney failure and medical attention should be sought immediately.

Bad breath could mean a lot more than just having too much garlic bread for lunch. If you feel your chronic bad breath is unusual, or a change in diet and improving oral hygiene does not help improve systems, you should seek advice from a medical practitioner to determine if your halitosis is a sign of a major health problem.


While the most obvious thing to do to treat chronic bad breath is to improve oral hygiene, there are some people who suffer from halitosis who brush and floss well every day. A visit to the dentist can help determine the cause of any medical problems or unusual causes for bad breath. If the dentist is unable to diagnose the cause of halitosis, he or she may refer you to a specialist or general health practitioner for treatment. However, the majority of halitosis cases stem from issues in the oral cavity. Depending on the severity of your chronic bad breath, your dentist may give you better brushing and flossing tips, and can even prescribe special products, like antimicrobial mouth-rinse, for better oral care.

Some oral hygiene tips to prevent or put an end to chronic bad breath include:

  • Brushing your teeth after every meal
  • Flossing once a day
  • Brushing your tongue
  • Using mouth-rinse

You should also replace your toothbrush regularly and find suitable toothpaste. Dental products that include chlorine dioxide and zinc are effective at eliminating oral odor. Make sure you try various products if one isn't working as you'd expect it to.

Lifestyle Changes

Aside from better oral hygiene, you can make certain lifestyle changes to help with halitosis:

  • If you suffer from chronic dry mouth, chewing sugarless gum or consuming more water can help with a poor flow of saliva.
  • Limit or avoid certain foods that typically cause bad breath, like garlic or onions.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Try to cut back on the coffee. You possibly switch to tea, instead.

Bottom Line

It may be hard to determine if you suffer from halitosis, but don't ignore your condition once you become aware of it. While chronic bad breath is commonly related to something as simple as poor oral hygiene, there is a possibility that you may be suffering from a life-threatening condition you are unaware of. If more brushing and flossing is not helping you with your condition, seek out a dentist to assist you with your problem as soon as possible.


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