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Medicines as a cause of bad breath

Many people are unaware that their regular medications contribute to bad breath and taste disorders. Chronic bad breath, also called halitosis, can sometimes be caused by taking certain medications which involve side effects that lead to long-term mouth odor.

Some forms of medication can indirectly produce bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Without saliva to wash away food particles and other odor-causing substances, dry mouth caused by medications can create an unpleasant odor in the mouth. Other types of medication can be broken down in the body and release chemicals in your mouth. When carried on your breath, these chemicals release an unpleasant odor.

If these bad-breath-causing medications are taken regularly, they can create or contribute to the form of chronic bad breath known as halitosis. Medications that have been associated with bad breath include: chloral hydrate, a sedative; dimethyl sulfoxide, which treats symptoms associated with bladder problems; disulfiram, which treats alcoholism by blocking specific enzyme activity; phenothiazines, which are used to treat psychotic disorders; amphetamines, which are involved in treating narcolepsy and ADHD; and some chemotherapy medicines. In addition, other medications such as antihistamines and diuretics like triamterene are associated with dry mouth, which can cause bad breath. Insulin shots for diabetic maintenance and paraldehyde for those with convulsive disorders are also linked with chronic bad breath.

If you suspect that a medication you are taking may be causing your bad breath, discuss possible alternatives with your doctor. In rare cases, bad breath may also be caused by certain medical conditions. To limit the extent of bad breath, make sure you are practicing healthy oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth with fluoride-based toothpaste after every meal. Short-term strategies such as sugar-free gum and mints may be helpful in fending off odor temporarily, but these should not be regarded as a substitute for regular oral maintenance and dental cleanings.


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