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3 Tips for Bad Breath

What is the cause of bad breath? What can be done about it aside from joining a monastary?

By
Rob Lamberts, MD,
Episode #013
bad breath

What Are Other Causes of Bad Breath?

Another place where pungent aromas can be produced is the tonsillar area. The tonsils and adenoids are immune organs that serve to guard the oral and nasal canals from incoming threats. The adenoids are basically tonsils that live at the back of the nasal cavity – just above the soft palate. There is actually one more set of tonsils at the very back of the tongue, called lingular tonsils, that can play a significant part in bad breath.

The tonsils and adenoids are a lot like English muffins -- full of nooks and crannies. Bacteria like to hide in these nooks and feast on food that happens to come by. Most sources I read stated that tonsillectomy should not be performed solely for bad breath, but they also didn’t give any recommendations on how to fix this problem. In my opinion, those recommendations don’t take into consideration the agony of the patient (or the people around him). I think it is reasonable to get a tonsillectomy in this situation for chronic tonsillitis if other options are exhausted.

What Are Potentially Serious Causes of Bad Breath?

Some other less common, but potentially serious causes of bad breath include:

  • Kidney disease

  • Liver disease

  • Lung problems

  • Problems with the esophagus and stomach

Generally, kidney and liver disease don’t first present with bad breath. But problems in the esophagus and lungs can be the cause of sudden, especially bad-smelling breath. All of these are uncommon, but if your bad breath comes on suddenly and no amount of brushing or mint eating can get rid of it, you should see your doctor.

[[AdMiddle]The last significant cause of halitosis is diet. Obviously, diets rich in garlic, onions, and other pungent foods can lead to social isolation. But other diets, such as ones low in carbohydrates, can change the acidity of the mouth and make it more prone to bad breath.

What to Do for Bad Breath

So what can be done for bad breath? Here are my quick and dirty tips for dealing with bad breath:

Tip 1: Observe Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth and tongue are important. Brush frequently and thoroughly. Don’t forget to floss. The first person you should visit with this problem is your dentist, who may not only be able to identify and treat your problem, but will also quickly concur with the diagnosis.

Tip 2: Keep it Moist 

Dry mouth can be caused by medications and certain medical problems. Check on any medications you are taking to see if they cause dry mouth. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on breath mints will help not only by covering the smell, but they will increase the saliva, which can prevent the bad breath in the first place.

Tip 3: Consider Other Medical Problems

If you can’t fix the problem after doing the first two steps, you should go to your doctor and ask about sinus problems. I have successfully treated bad breath in patients using steroid nasal sprays and antibiotics. If your doctor says it’s not a problem with your sinuses, be sure to ask about other potential medical problems, like kidney and liver disease and problems with your lungs, stomach, and esophagus.

And if all else fails, you can join a monastery in the Himalayas.

Stay tuned, because I'll cover other potentially embarrassing problems like body odor, urinary incontinence, bowel problems, hemorrhoids, and "male" issues in other episodes.

That’s it for today. Thanks for the question. This may not be a life-threatening problem, but it certainly can be life altering. 

If you have questions you want answered, send them to housecalldoctor@quickanddirtytips.com. You can find me on Twitter as @housecalldoc and on Facebook under “House Call Doctor.”

Catch you next time! Stay Healthy!

Covered Mouth image courtesy of Shutterstock

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