When Your Bad Breath Just Won’t Go Away

Have you tried brushing your teeth, flossing more often, and even scraping your tongue, but still find that your breath reeks when you open your mouth? Persistent bad breath like this is not something you want to ignore. Here's a look at the possible causes and what you can do about them.


Some people have crypts, or little pits, in their tonsils. Bacteria, bits of food, and saliva can get stuck in these crypts and fester, forming hard white lumps called tonsililoths or tonsil stones. These tonsiloliths have a terrible odor which can cause your breath to stink whenever you open your mouth.

Open your mouth really wide, and take a peek at your tonsils, which are found to either side of the back of your tongue. If you see little white spots, these are tonsil stones. Sometimes you need to use your finger to press on your tonsils, moving them slightly to the side, to see where the stones are hiding. You may cough up the stones from time to time.

Some people are able to poke their tonsil stones out with their fingers. If you cannot do this on your own, your dentist or an ear, nose, and throat doctor, can do it for you. Regularly gargling with salt water or mouthwash can keep new ones from forming, and if you have ongoing problems, your doctor may recommend having your tonsils removed.

Tooth Decay

Cavities and tooth decay are also caused by bacteria, and these bacteria are also smelly. You might not be feeling any pain from the tooth decay if it has not caused a deep lesion in your tooth yet, but you may be smelling it. Note that even if you don't see any black or brown spots on your teeth, you could have decay. A common location for decay to begin is between the teeth, where you cannot see it.

Your dentist will visually examine your mouth and possibly also take x-rays to see if tooth decay is the culprit for your bad breath. If you do have decay, you'll need to have the cavity drilled and filled. In more severe cases, the tooth might need to be covered with a crown to protect it from further damage. Once the decayed tissue is removed, your bad breath should go away.

If cleaning your mouth does not alleviate your bad breath, don't shrug your shoulders and give up. Tooth decay and tonsil stones are not terribly hard to treat, and your bad breath will be a thing of the past once you do.