Bad Breath (Halitosis)

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

What signs and symptoms may be associated with bad breath?

It is generally simple how to tell if you have bad breath. Others may notice someone has halitosis before the person does, so another person may tell him or her about their bad breath or give them a larger than normal personal space. The most obvious sign or symptom of bad breath is noticing an unpleasant smell coming from the mouth.

Other signs and symptoms of bad breath include

  • unpleasant or sour taste or changes in taste,
  • dry mouth,
  • coating on the tongue.

What are treatment options and home remedies for bad breath? What can be done to prevent bad breath?

Treatment of bad breath depends on the cause.

  • Brush and floss teeth regularly. Remember to brush the tongue, too. This can help with bad breath caused by foods a person has eaten.
  • See a dentist regularly to ensure dentures or braces are properly fitted and cleaned.
  • Quit smoking or using chewing tobacco.

Keep the mouth moist by drinking water and chewing sugarless gum or sugar-free hard candy to stimulate the production of saliva. Mouthwash may temporarily mask bad breath odors, but it may not treat the underlying cause.

Natural remedies to treat bad breath include chewing on mint or parsley.

If bad breath is due to a health problem such as a sinus infection, diabetes, acid reflux, etc., then the underlying medical issue needs to be treated.

If bad breath is a side effect of taking a medication, discuss with a health care professional whether there are other options for medication that can be taken. Never stop taking a medication without first consulting your health care professional.

For patients who suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia), artificial saliva may be prescribed by a dentist.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/25/2016
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