What Causes Chronic Bad Breath and What Are My Options?

What Causes Chronic Bad Breath and What Are My Options?

Dragon breath. Yuck mouth. Stank breath. These are some of the (believe it or not) kinder nicknames for chronic bad breath (or halitosis). 

Sure, everybody knows foods, like garlic, onions, and coffee, can leave behind residues that make your breath smell bad. But foods and drinks are just two possible causes of bad breath — and usually, they can be remedied by brushing and flossing. 

Chronic bad breath is persistent — and super embarrassing. If you really want to know why your breath smells bad despite a good oral hygiene routine, you might have to look a little deeper.

At Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC, we know how embarrassing chronic bad breath can be for our New York City patients — and we also know that it just might indicate a serious oral health problem, like deep infection. If you have chronic bad breath, here's what could be causing it — and how our team can help.

Why chronic bad breath happens

Chronic bad breath is bad breath that persists even after you brush, floss, and use mouthwash. Here are some of the most common causes.

Gum disease

Gum disease happens when germs invade your gum tissue and cause an infection. When these germs multiply, they release toxins that irritate your gums and cause bad breath. Without prompt treatment, the infection can quickly spread, increasing your risk of tooth loss, too.

Tooth decay

Tooth decay is also caused by germs that invade the tooth and damage the tooth’s structure. And, as with gum disease, when these bacteria multiply, they release toxic, smelly substances. The decayed material inside your tooth can smell, too. Having regular dental exams ensures cavities are caught early — before they cause a lot of tooth damage and chronic bad breath.

Dry mouth

Saliva doesn’t just keep your mouth moist — it washes away tiny food particles, neutralizes plaque acids, and gets rid of dead cells and other debris. If you don’t produce enough saliva, excess acids, decaying food particles, and microscopic bits of debris can quickly combine to form a foul-smelling concoction. 

Other medical problems

Not all bad breath starts in your mouth. Some chronic bad breath is associated with asthma or other respiratory problems, reflux disease, post-nasal drip, stomach diseases, or liver and kidney problems. If you have chronic bad breath and your dentist can’t find an oral health-related reason, they may recommend other tests or specialists to determine what’s causing it.


No list of halitosis causes would be complete if it didn’t include smoking. Smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco all leave smelly residues that coat your tongue, gums, teeth, and palate. Plus, many products increase your risks of decay and disease, and they also contribute to dry mouth.

Banishing chronic bad breath

Certainly, improving your at-home oral health habits can help eliminate a lot of temporary bad breath problems. Paying close attention to your brushing and flossing techniques and adding mouthwash to the mix are the first things to try. 

If you still have bad breath despite your best efforts, the first step in getting rid of it is to have an oral exam. During your appointment, our team will look for signs of infection and decay that could be causing halitosis, recommending treatments based on the specific type of problem, like infection or deep decay. Fillings, root canals, and gum disease treatments are all possible options that can help clear up bad breath and improve your oral health, too.

We can also determine if you have dry mouth — even if you’ve never noticed a decline in saliva production. If you do, we may prescribe special mouthwash or sprays to keep your mouth moist, along with “home remedies,” like drinking more water or even chewing sugar-free gum. Finally, if we suspect a non-dental issue could be to blame, we can recommend a specialist who can help.

Find out what’s causing your bad breath

Don’t let chronic bad breath make you feel embarrassed. In most cases, the cause is easily treated. To find out more, call 929-229-0255 or book an appointment online at Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC today.

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