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What is Halitosis (Bad Breath), and How Do You Prevent It?

After eating your favorite jalapeno, garlic, and onion burger, you might pop a breath mint in your mouth to help mask the robust odor of your breath. Bad breath can be an annoying and embarrassing problem, not only for you but sometimes for those around you. Occasional bad breath from foods like garlic or onions generally isn’t a cause for concern. However, frequent bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be a symptom of a more serious health issue.

Most causes of bad breath can be prevented. Here is an explanation of what halitosis is and a few ways you can prevent it.

Preventing Halitosis (bad breath)

What is Halitosis (Bad Breath)?

If you have bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away no matter what you do, you may have halitosis. You know when you eat certain foods, such as onions or garlic, their taste and smell can linger in your mouth. For this type of bad breath, a mint, brush of your teeth, or a quick rinse with mouthwash can often eliminate or reduce any odor.

Halitosis is when the breath mints, toothpaste, and mouthwash don’t work, or only work for a short time in getting rid of any obnoxious breath smell. You may also have a bad taste in your mouth. The cause of this type of bad breath may be either from an infection or disease in your mouth or somewhere else in your body.

Causes of Halitosis (Bad Breath)

Some common causes of halitosis include cavities, gum disease, poorly fitted dentures or other dental appliances, and dry mouth. Dry mouth can be caused by some medications, tobacco use, alcohol, or caffeine.

Other conditions that may cause halitosis can include chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, and acid reflux. More serious illnesses that contribute to bad breath include bronchitis, pneumonia, diabetes, and diseases of the liver and kidney.

Good Oral Hygiene to Prevent Halitosis (Bad Breath)

Maintaining good oral health is one of the best ways to prevent halitosis. Good oral hygiene starts with brushing your teeth twice a day, including once in the evening. It also included flossing once a day using traditional dental floss or an interdental cleaner that can get between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Interdental devices are small brushes, picks, or sticks that are often easier to hold then dental floss. After you brush and floss, we recommend rinsing with an antiseptic mouth wash.

Using a tongue scraper, tongue brush, or your regular toothbrush on your tongue is another step in good oral care. Scraping can remove any bacteria, food particles, or dead cells that can become trapped in the crevices and under the mucus on your tongue. A tongue scraper is generally made of a flexible, plastic material. Some toothbrushes come with a specialized tongue-cleaner on the back of the toothbrush. The best time to scrape your tongue is when you brush your teeth.

With your tongue scraper or toothbrush, work gently from the back of your tongue to the front. After you scrape your tongue, rinse your mouth with water or an antiseptic mouthwash. Always rinse off your tongue scraper or brush after each use. When cleaning your tongue always be gentle. If your tongue becomes sore or bleeds you are probably pressing too hard.

Dental Check-ups to Help Prevent Halitosis

Another way to prevent halitosis (and maintain good oral hygiene) is to visit your dentist twice a year for regular dental check-ups. Seeing your dentist on a regular basis helps them diagnosis any oral health issues before they become larger problems. These dental visits often include exams, diagnostic procedures such as x-rays, and teeth cleanings.

A professional dental cleaning twice a year can help remove the tartar build up on the surface of your teeth. Tartar build-up can cause cavities and gum disease, which can lead not only to bad breath but other health issues.

A professional dental office, such as Aesthetic Family Dentistry in Phoenix, Arizona, can determine if your bad breath is from last week’s meal choices or a symptom of an underlying health issue. The dental team at Aesthetic Family Dentistry is trained in breath care, including halitosis. We can explain what halitosis is and offer ways to help you establish a good oral hygiene practice to help prevent bad breath.

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Aesthetic Family Dentistry

26232 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 400
Phoenix, AZ 85050
(480) 515-0404


If you're looking for a professional and highly trained dentist in the North Phoenix & Cave Creek area, you've come to the right place. Our amazing dental team is ready to take care of all your dental needs. We welcome patients from all over Phoenix, including the Cave Creek, North Scottsdale, Tatum Ridge, and Desert View Village neighborhoods. Some of our more popular dental services include: cosmetic dentistry, regular cleanings, exams, dental implants to take care of those missing teeth, teeth whitening for a brighter, whiter smile, and porcelain veneers for a more beautiful smile. Contact Aesthetic Family Dentistry to book your next appointment at our North Phoenix dental office today.