mouthwash-150x150Chronic, severe bad breath is known as halitosis. It can be tough to cope with and can put a major damper on your life if you ignore it. You can significantly lower the severity of your halitosis by identifying contributing factors and dealing with the causes directly rather than trying to cover them up with mouthwash or mints.

Here are some of the major contributors to halitosis:

If you are a smoker, you should quit. Not only does cigarette smoking cause bad breath, it is bad for your overall health. There are alternatives to smoking that can help make the quitting process easier. You can talk to your dentist about these options and ask about support groups and advice.

Watch your diet. Many common foods like garlic contribute to bad breath. If you have a chronic halitosis problem, cutting out or minimizing these foods will help. Avoid large amounts of garlic, onions, coffee, alcohol, sugary and highly acidic foods. Once the food is absorbed into your bloodstream, the smell is expelled through your breath, but the odors remain until the body processes the food, so there’s no quick fix.

Dry mouth is another major contributor to bad breath. If your mouth is excessively dry, there is not enough saliva to wash away excess food particles and bacteria, which can cause an unpleasant smell if they build up on the teeth. Alcohol and smoking can cause dry mouth. There are also many foods that have a tendency to get stuck in your mouth. If you have dry mouth you might want to avoid meat, pineapple, popcorn, sticky candy, caramel, spinach, and coconut. When you do eat these foods be sure to brush your teeth and floss afterward to help clear out the debris.

If you use mouthwash be sure to check the label. Many rinses contain alcohol, which will exacerbate your dry mouth issue. The rinse may cover up your bad breath temporarily but in the long run it will make the problem worse.

Infections in the mouth will also cause bad breath. Even infections in other parts of your body can cause a noticeable change in your breath. If you and your dentist rule out any oral problems, consult your doctor. Bad breath can be a sign of a range of conditions including respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis or bronchitis, diabetes, or liver and kidney problems, so it’s important not to ignore the problem.

Chronic bad breath is no fun. The best way to deal with it is through a strict oral care regimen. Brush twice each day, floss after every meal, and use an alcohol-free mouthwash. This will help remove any leftover food particles and kill odor-causing bacteria clinging to your teeth.