Everybody gets bad breath from time to time, such as after eating a meal of liver and onions. But if you have chronic bad breath, it might be a sign of something more serious, like gum disease or an infected tooth. We can help treat the underlying cause of your bad breath to help you enjoy a fresh breath and clean taste in your mouth.

If you are looking for treatment of chronic bad breath in midtown Manhattan, dentist Karthilde Appolon can help. Please call (212) 557-8668 today for an appointment at Appolon Dental Group in Columbus Circle.

Young man smiling after bad breath treatment

Causes of Bad Breath

It’s important to distinguish between short-term bad breath and chronic bad breath. Short-term bad breath occurs because of food residue in your mouth that’s releasing scent molecules or is decomposing. This can be worsened if you are dehydrated because you’re not drinking water or are drinking too much coffee or alcohol. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth should be enough to take care of this type of bad breath. Just don’t forget to brush your tongue, and don’t use mouthwash with alcohol, which can dry your mouth, leading to more bad breath even if it conceals the smell for a while.

Chronic bad breath, on the other hand, may be a sign of something more serious. Causes include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Gum disease
  • Infected tooth
  • Tonsil stones
  • Retained food
  • Dry mouth
  • Medications and diet
  • Sleep apnea (especially linked to morning breath)

We can identify signs of acid reflux in your mouth and refer you to your doctor. We can also address many of these causes of bad breath.

Oral Bacteria and Bad Breath

Probably the most common cause of chronic bad breath is oral bacteria. Some oral bacteria “breathe” oxygen like we do, and they produce odorless waste gasses. But other oral bacteria use sulfur instead. These bacteria give off waste gasses that have a thick, rotten smell. The bacteria that use sulfur like to build up in places where they are sheltered from oxygen (which is toxic to them). This includes the area between your teeth, the area between your gums and teeth, the interior of an infected tooth, and the interior of tonsil stones.

Tonsil stones are accumulations of bacteria and food residue in your tonsils. They occur when you have a lot of bacteria in your mouth.

Retained Food

The food you eat is supposed to go down your throat into your digestive system, but sometimes food gets stuck in your mouth. When this happens, the odor of rotting food can cause bad breath. If you regularly get food stuck in your mouth, it could be caused by crooked teeth or tooth gaps that are more likely to trap food.

Food can also get trapped between your teeth and gums if you have gum disease. And cavities can trap food, too. We can examine the places where food gets trapped in your mouth and correct them with gum disease treatment, fillings, or Invisalign.

Dry Mouth, Medications, and Diet

One important step to try to control bad breath is staying hydrated. If you are getting adequate water but your body isn’t producing enough saliva, we can recommend saliva replacements that help your mouth stay moist. Also, note that dry mouth is a common side effect of medications. If you experience chronic dry mouth and you’re not dehydrated, check to see if it’s related to your medications.


Your diet can also cause bad breath because it changes the chemicals your body produces. In particular, people on low-carb diets find their breath takes on a particular (ketonic) odor, although not everyone thinks this is a bad smell.

Are You Looking for Help with Bad Breath?

If you have chronic bad breath, it can make you uncomfortable in social situations and even diminish your enjoyment of food. We can help identify the cause and find a treatment that works for you.

To learn how we can help treat your bad breath, please call (212) 557-8668 today for an appointment with Dr. Karthilde Appolon at Appolon Dental Group in Columbus Circle.