Establish a Daily Oral Care Routine

When food particles aren’t properly removed, bacteria forms on the teeth, gums, and tongue. This can cause halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, and it will worsen as the bacteria continue to grow. Staying diligent with a good oral regimen is the best bad breath remedy for conventional halitosis. A twice-daily 3-step oral care routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a mouthwash for bad breath prevents odor-causing bacteria from taking hold in the mouth.

Don’t be shy to ask your dentist about treating halitosis. The problem can be dealt with very easily, or you may find out that deeper problems are present. However, it may be hard to know until you check with an oral healthcare professional.

The best treatment for bad breath addresses the root of the problem. Most bad breath is caused by poor oral hygiene—not being diligent enough in the removal of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria left alone builds on itself and intensifies embarrassing odors. So a twice-daily routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash like LISTERINE® will prevent most forms of bad breath. Make sure to brush your tongue, too, if you’re still experiencing bad breath after brushing.

Regular checkups with your dentist are another easy way to help prevent and avoid bad breath. At least twice a year, receiving a professional cleaning and examination can offset the buildup of odor-causing bacteria. Follow the dentist’s instructions carefully; take note of the foods and drink you consume and use tools like a tongue scraper for extra effectiveness in removing residual food debris and bacteria.

Being prepared and aware of the causes of bad breath, however, is the best way to avoid any embarrassing stinky breath. Something as simple as brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash twice daily can prevent bacteria from getting the chance to coalesce and cause bad breath, gingivitis (early-stage gum disease), or more serious oral health issues.

Bad Breath Treatment and Prevention Tips

There are many simple ways to prevent bad breath (halitosis), and unsurprisingly, they all focus on paying attention to what goes into your mouth. Avoiding certain things and making a point to include others can make all the difference.

  1. 01

    Drink a Lot of Water

    If you can’t follow up a meal with brushing, flossing and rinsing, drinking water can help cleanse your mouth of bacteria and food particles before they can start to cause problems.  Drinking water not only prevents dry mouth, which can cause bad breath, it also flushes out debris and food particles before they break down and make your breath stink. Foul mouth odors are caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth that is typically dealt with by your saliva glands. If you don’t hydrate enough, your saliva production will decline, leading to a dry environment conducive to bacteria growth. Drinking plenty of water can ensure that your mouth stays moist and clean.

  2. 02

    Avoid Foods that Cause Bad Breath

    Components from food that you eat are absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the lungs, where their residual odor then comes out of your mouth with every breath you take. So the foods you eat will affect how your breath smells. Pungent ingredients like garlic, onions, and other spicy foods are some of the worst offenders when it comes to causing bad breath. Eat plenty of vegetables and herbs, while avoiding foods that contribute to bad breath like those high in sugar or with particularly potent flavor.

  3. 03

    Chew Gum to Reduce Bad Breath Germs

    Dentists recommend brushing, flossing and rinsing twice a day for optimal oral hygiene. So what can you do in between cleanings? Chewing sugar-free gum can also help treat bad breath, as it activates saliva production in the mouth, which helps flush away food and bacteria from your teeth, gums and tongue. With an increase in saliva, odor-causing bacteria has a harder time clumping together, and hence won’t cause bad breath as much. Be careful not to chew gum or mints with sugar, as sugar is a main culprit of bacteria growth in the mouth.

  4. 04

    Avoid Sugar Intake

    Also, reducing your intake of high sugar drinks like soda or certain juices can also help bad breath, as sugar only exacerbates the conditions where odor-causing bacteria grows.

  5. 05

    Treat Bad Breath Caused by Alcohol & Coffee

    Alcohol and coffee are especially problematic when it comes to bad breath, so some basic treatment can go a long way in stemming any odors that occur after indulging in your favorite drink. After a cup of coffee or glass of wine, try rinsing with an antiseptic rinse like LISTERINE® ULTRACLEAN® mouthwash for bad breath or using a portable breath freshener like LISTERINE® POCKETPAKS® strips. Rinsing twice daily with a LISTERINE® mouthwash for bad breath as part of your brushing and flossing routine is very effective at removing excess food debris, as well as keeping bacteria from forming on the gums.

  6. 06

    Stop Smoking and Chewing Tobacco

    Getting rid of bad breath for those who smoke or chew tobacco will most likely entail quitting their bad habits. Aside from more serious oral health issues like gum disease, bone loss, and oral cancer, smoking or chewing tobacco causes bad breath, commonly known as smoker’s breath. Removing it from your life will almost certainly improve the freshness of your breath.

  7. 07

    Treat Oral Infections Immediately

    Treating any oral infection you have will almost always improve the freshness of your breath, as infections create the perfect environment for odor-causing bacteria to thrive. See a dentist and follow their instructions carefully.

  8. 08

    Be Careful of Colds, Head Colds, or Sinus Infections

    Sinus infections can also lead to bad breath, as the sinuses and mouth are closely related. If you are experiencing post-nasal drip due to a cold or sinus issue, bacteria can build up and cause foul odors to enter the mouth. If you believe your bad breath is the result of a sinus infection, enlarged tonsils, or post-nasal drip, it could be time to call medical professional.

  9. 09

    See Your Dentist Regularly

    Maybe you have been practicing good oral hygiene, but your breath still makes people visibly turn their heads. It might be time to call a professional. Not only will your dentist give your teeth an expert touch, he or she can conduct an oral exam to detect and treat periodontal disease and other problems.

Get Checked for Underlying Health Problems

If you believe your bad breath or halitosis is not temporary but more of a deeper, chronic condition, it may be from an underlying health problem.

The following illnesses may be the source of embarrassing breath:

  • Acid reflux
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Periodontitis
  • Oral and Sinus infections
  • Digestive issues
  • Various kinds of cancer
Illustration of a smile
Causes of Bad Breath

Talk to Your Dental Healthcare Professional if you have taken steps to improve your oral care routine and you are still experiencing persistent or chronic bad breath, you should schedule an appointment and discuss the issue with your dentist or hygienist. To help diagnose the underlying cause of your bad breath, your dentist may ask you about when you first began to experience the chronic bad breath and how often you brush your teeth, floss, and use mouthwash. Your dentist may also ask about medications or supplements that you may take, whether or not you snore, and also conduct an exam to check for other oral health conditions.