Question from: 12/23/96

Answer: Bad breath, or Halitosis, usually originates in your mouth--especially the back of your tongue. If the problem is chronic, it may be due to gum disease (periodontitis) in which case you should see your dentist. Foods such as garlic or onions can release volatile sulfur compounds into the bloodstream which are carried to the lungs and released in your breath.

Treatment usually involves measures to improve dental hygiene. Be sure to brush after every meal and floss daily. When you can't brush after meals, at least rinse your mouth out with water. Brush your tongue if it looks coated. If you have a dry mouth, drink more water and/or chew sugarless gum. See if helps to avoid strong-smelling foods and alcohol. If you smoke, try to stop. Mints and mouthwashes help, but do not cure the problem. There is no scientific evidence that "internal breth fresheners" work. You don't really need to fight bad breath "from the inside out" since the odors seldom come from the gastrointestinal tract!

Charles H. Booras, MD

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