When your breath is a little smelly, you brush your teeth and use some mouthwash, and the smell goes away -- except for when it doesn't. Bad breath that lingers in spite of good dental hygiene is not something you should ignore. Here's a look at some possible reasons why you're suffering from ongoing smelly breath.
You're developing tooth decay
Tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria. These oral bacteria release some pretty noxious odors. When they're lodged deeper in a decayed area of your tooth, just brushing and using mouthwash is not going to get rid of them -- so the smell lingers. Sometimes tooth decay will cause an obvious black or brown spot on your tooth, but this is not always the case. Sometimes your only symptom may be the smell, or perhaps you'll have some sensitivity when you sip a hot or cold beverage. Head to a dentist for a checkup. If they do discover decay, they can fill the cavity or cover your tooth with a crown, depending on the extent of the decay, and this should eradicate your bad breath.
You have tonsil stones
Open your mouth wide, and look in the mirror. You should see a little puff of tissue on each side of your throat. These are your tonsils. Do you see any white spots on them? If so, these are probably tonsil stones. They're collections of bacteria and food particles, which get lodged in the pockets in your tonsils and release a malodor. You can try pressing on the stones with a cotton swab or your finger to pop them out. Gargling with saltwater may also help. If the stones become an oncoming problem, your doctor may be able to seal the pockets in your tonsils with a laser, preventing them from recurring.
You have gum disease
Examine your gums closely. Are they red and puffy? Do they bleed when you brush or use dental floss? Chances are, you're in the beginning stages of gum disease, which is caused by smelly oral bacteria. Mouthwash won't fully wash them away if they're lodged deeper in your gum tissue or between your teeth and gums.
You can try kicking your oral hygiene routine into top gear for a week or two. Brush after every single meal, floss daily, and use mouthwash several times per day. If the bad breath is still there and your gums are not improving, your dentist may need to perform a deep cleaning or prescribe you an antibiotic.