Halitosis, or bad breath, may occur when you wake up in the morning or after you've eaten a meal laden with garlic and onions, for example. Typically, good oral hygiene will resolve the problem and prevent bad breath from becoming a long-term issue. For some people, though, bad breath is a persistent problem and may be the sign of an underlying health issue. In these situations, it’s probably wise to speak with a doctor or a dentist about the problem.
The most common sources of bad breath are simply something stuck in your mouth around the teeth or gums. Regular brushing and flossing can take care of this. Other common factors in life can cause temporary halitosis, such as eating a meal with breath-altering foods in it, waking up in the morning, smoking or chewing tobacco or having a cold or sinus infection.
Other times, halitosis can be a warning sign of a deeper, underlying health condition. It may be a sign that something is awry in the mouth itself, such as gingivitis or gum disease. It can also be a signal of a more serious whole-body issue. Diabetes, bronchitis, lung disease, liver disease and kidney disease can all exhibit halitosis as a symptom.
Treatment of Bad Breath
For normal, run-of-the-mill halitosis, solving the problem might be as simple as brushing or flossing twice a day and drinking plenty of water. Avoiding smoking, chewing tobacco and alcohol can also help. Gum and mouthwash only mask the smell temporarily and are a short-term solution.
If the bad breath persists or is especially troublesome, visit a dentist. The dentist can fully examine the mouth and determine if there is a deeper, underlying problem that is causing the halitosis. If the mouth appears healthy, you may be referred to a primary care physician to determine if the bad breath is a warning sign of a health condition elsewhere in the body.
SOURCES: American Academy of Family Physicians; American Dental Association.