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What causes bad breath and what can I do about it?


All of us have experienced bad breath (also called halitosis) at one time or another. Poor oral hygiene is one of the most common causes of bad breath. Bacteria grow on food particles in the mouth, causing an unpleasant odor. A dry mouth can also encourage bacterial growth and lead to bad breath. Other causes include tobacco use, cavities, gum disease, heartburn, sinus infections, lung disease, and kidney disease. Certain foods like onions, garlic, alcohol, and coffee are notorious culprits. Medicines that dry out the mouth, including antihistamines, can also contribute to the problem.

Bad breath prevention

The best way to prevent bad breath is through good oral hygiene. Dentists recommend brushing and flossing frequently to clean your mouth. It's also important to brush your tongue too. If you can't brush after eating, chew sugarless gum or at least rinse your mouth with water. Oral devices like dentures, retainers, and braces can trap food after a meal. Follow your dentist's directions to properly clean these devices. People with dry mouth may benefit from over-the-counter saliva substitutes. Mouthwashes and breath mints can temporarily hide breath odor, but they don't treat the cause of the problem. Some people also try herbal remedies. If your breath doesn't improve with good oral hygiene, talk to your doctor or dentist. A medical condition may be causing the problem.

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Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

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