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: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • 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.

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What products can be used to eliminate or mask bad breath?

Bad breath that is due to simple causes such as foods may be more easily masked or eliminated than bad breath due to medical conditions, infections, or medication side effects.

There are some things a person can do to eliminate or at least temporarily mask bad breath.

  • Brushing the teeth and tongue, and flossing, can often get rid of bad breath, at least in the short term.
  • Mouthwash may temporarily mask bad breath and can help with oral hygiene.
  • Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugar-free mints may temporarily mask bad breath odor.
  • For more serious cases of bad breath, dentists can prescribe special toothpaste and mouthwash that can improve the symptoms of bad breath.

When should someone see a doctor about bad breath?

Most of the time, bad breath can be cured and prevented with proper oral hygiene. It is rarely life-threatening, and the prognosis is good. However, bad breath may be a complication of a medical disorder that needs to be treated.

If proper oral hygiene does not get rid of bad breath, see a dentist or doctor for a diagnosis if bad breath is accompanied by

  • persistent dry mouth,
  • sores in the mouth,
  • pain or difficulty with chewing or swallowing,
  • broken teeth or dental pain,
  • white spots on the tonsils,
  • fever.

Also see a doctor or dentist if bad breath develops after taking a new medication, after recent dental surgery, or any other symptoms develop that are of concern.

Bad breath in babies or young children may be a sign of infection or undiagnosed medical problems. Consult a child's pediatrician or dentist if an infant or young child has bad breath.

REFERENCE:

Rosenberg, Mel. "Bad Breath." UpToDate.com. June 2015. <http://www.uptodate.com/contents/bad-breath?source=search_result&search=tonsil+stones&selectedTitle=3~3>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/25/2016
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