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How to Stop Bad Breath: 3 Causes and Remedies

bad-breath-womanby Jonathan Schriber, M.D.

Bad breath comes from three main places: the mouth, sinuses and upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus and stomach). Here are top tips on how to stop it.

How to Stop Bad Breath From the Mouth
This is the most likely origin. Regular, thorough brushing and flossing will help eliminate the germs that cause bad breath. If the smell just won’t go away, visit your dentist to look for unsuspected cavities or gum disease, and get a professional cleaning to remove foul-smelling plaque.

How to Stop Bad Breath From the Sinuses
Sinus infections sometimes cause bad breath. If you get headaches or post-nasal drip, suspect this problem. Decongestants help, or you may need to see a doctor for antibiotics.

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How to Stop Bad Breath From the Upper Gastrointestinal Tract
Acid reflux, with regurgitation of acid and partially digested food into the esophagus, often causes heartburn but may also lead to bad breath. Treatments include antacids, acid-blocking medications, and avoiding lying down after eating.

Also, if the stomach doesn’t empty properly (a condition called gastroparesis), nausea, vomiting and bad breath may result. Prescription medications can treat this problem.

Finally, a common stomach infection from the bacterium helicobacter can cause breath odor (as well as ulcers and stomach pain). Eliminating the germ with antibiotics will have your breath smelling good again.

is a board-certified gastroenterologist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

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Last updated and/or approved: March 2011.
Original article appeared in January/February 2008 former print magazine. Bios current as of that issue. This general health-care information is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.
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