How to Prevent or Manage Chronic Bad Breath

How to Prevent or Manage Chronic Bad Breath

Bad breath is embarrassing, but at least you can take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone: Studies indicate as many as half of all Americans suffer from bad breath (or halitosis), along with lower levels of self-confidence that go along with it.

But there is some good news about bad breath: It’s treatable, and better yet, it’s usually preventable. Julie Strauss, DMD, and our team at Strauss Dental help patients in Oregon City, Oregon, put an end to bad breath with professional treatments and DIY solutions you can do at home (or anywhere else). If you have bad breath, here’s what to do.

Common causes of bad breath

One major reason bad breath is so common: Lots of factors can cause it. Knowing these potential causes plays an important role in preventing bad breath — and improving your oral health, too.


Onions, garlic, tuna, coffee — sure, they may taste good, but they also leave behind residues that can cause bad breath. You don’t have to avoid them, but do be mindful of their impact, and take steps to freshen your breath after meals or snacks.


Smoking doesn’t just make your teeth look yellow or brown — it leaves residues that cause bad breath. Plus, it dramatically increases your risk of gum disease, another cause of bad breath.


Your mouth is home to billions of bacteria — some essential for oral health, and some that cause infections and decay. When bacteria multiply, many produce foul odors that result in bad breath. 

Gum disease and tooth decay

If you have chronic bad breath that just won’t be tamed, it could be a sign of an oral health problem, like gum disease or cavities. Both of these problems involve large numbers of bacteria that can cause bad breath.

Dry mouth

Saliva plays important roles in your oral health, helping to wash away food particles while also managing bacterial populations. If you aren’t producing enough saliva, you’re more likely to suffer from bad breath, too.

Other medical problems

Sinus infections, stomach troubles, diabetes, indigestion, and even liver disease can all cause bad breath. Certain medications can contribute to bad breath, too, by drying out your mouth.

Preventing and treating bad breath

Having regular professional cleanings is one of the best ways to prevent bad breath. Not only will your professional cleaning get rid of plaque and tartar that can harbor stinky bacteria, but Dr. Strauss also looks for other possible culprits, like gum disease or dry mouth, so she can treat them.

Other than your routine dental checkups and cleanings, there are some important steps you can take at home, too.

Brushing and flossing

Twice-daily brushing and flossing at least once a day are essential for getting rid of bacteria and eliminating tiny food particles that help those microorganisms grow and flourish. For added impact, gently brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper to remove odor-causing film that can collect on the surface of your tongue.

Rinsing after meals

While brushing right after eating can cause excess enamel wear and tear, it’s perfectly fine — even advisable — to rinse thoroughly. Rinsing gets rid of food particles and freshens your mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum can help, too.

Using mouthwash

Although mouthwash should never be used as a substitute for brushing, its bacteria-fighting properties are a good add-on therapy to keep bad breath at bay. You can use it to rinse right after meals, too. Look for a mouthwash that doesn’t use alcohol, an additive that can dry out your mouth (and increase the likelihood of bad breath).

Quitting smoking

Kicking your tobacco habit can significantly improve your breath while also reducing your risks of gum disease and dry mouth. The same is true if you vape.

Ramping up saliva production

Sugar-free gum, apples, or raw carrots are all good options for activating those all-important salivary glands. If you have chronic dry mouth, Dr. Strauss may recommend a special rinse or another product to stimulate saliva production or even supplement your natural saliva.

Make fresh breath a priority

Bad breath is embarrassing, but it can be treated. The key is to schedule an appointment as soon as possible, so we can map out a treatment plan with you. To learn more about bad breath management, call 503-656-2139 or book an appointment online with Dr. Strauss and our team at Strauss Dental today.

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