What is Chronic Halitosis?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Chronic halitosis, more commonly known as chronic bad breath, occurs when a person emits a foul-smelling odor from their mouth for a long period of time. They typically cannot stop the odor with routine teeth brushing and flossing. Although millions of people suffer from chronic halitosis, many do not realize it until someone informs them, either politely or rudely, that their breath stinks. Chronic halitosis stems from a variety of causes. Luckily, there are several ways to treat and prevent chronic halitosis, as well.

The main cause of chronic halitosis is a build up of bacteria in the mouth. Usually the source of the bacteria is a cavity, an abscessed tooth, or gum disease, such as gingivitis. Routine teeth cleaning by a dentist will prevent such conditions from occurring, and thereby reduce the likelihood that chronic halitosis will develop. As a general rule, most people are advised to visit their dentist at least twice a year.

Oftentimes, chronic halitosis is a symptom of a severe throat or nasal cavity infections. For example, a persistent sinus infection, such as sinusitis can often be blamed. Another culprit that leads to chronic halitosis is a severe blockage of the nasal passage, such as a deviated septum. Until the deviated septum is repaired with surgery, the halitosis will likely continue. On a more serious note, chronic halitosis can be a symptom of potentially fatal health problems, such as kidney failure or even failure of the liver.


There are a few other reasons that a person may suffer from chronic halitosis. These range from following a strict, high protein diet, such as the Akins Diet, to smoking. Also, mouthwash that has alcohol as its base may also cause it.

In many cases, once a person figures out what is causing the chronic halitosis, they can work to cure and prevent it. For example, if months are spent eating foods that are primarily sources of protein, simply changing one's diet can treat it. The same goes for those sufferers who smoke or use certain alcohol-based mouthwashes - once the cause of the problem is discovered, the problem can be fixed. If chronic halitosis is an indicator of a larger medical issue, then treating that issue will treat the halitosis.

There are several preventative measures that can be taken for those who are concerned over developing chronic halitosis:

  • Brush and floss after meals and before bed
  • Use a mouthwash without alcohol as its base
  • Clean the tongue with a tongue scraper a few times each day
  • Chew sugar-free gum, fennel seeds, fresh parsley, or cinnamon sticks
  • Eat well-balanced meals, not just those high in protein
  • Keep dentures, retainers, and other dental devices clean by soaking them in an antibacterial solution that is recommended by a dentist
  • Drink plenty of water

By following these measures, routinely visiting the dentist, and having an open communication about any other medical concerns with your doctor, chronic halitosis can be prevented or treated.


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