Causes and Treatment of Bad Breath

Bad Breath Stinks!

Bad breath:  It’s part of life.  It’s inevitable.  Our mouths endure a lot throughout the day.  We eat, drink, and partake in a variety of activities that may leave our breath smelling less than fresh.  The good news is that there are steps we can take to help prevent embarrassing social mishaps.  Sometimes a Tic-Tac just won’t do the trick, but we’re here to help!  Here’s some useful information regarding the causes of bad breath and how to prevent it.

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Symptoms of Bad Breath

In your day to day, if you notice certain feelings or flavors in your mouth, those are good indicators of whether or not your breath smells bad.  If you are experiencing any of the following, it might be time to pop a mint or brush your teeth.

  • A sticky white coating on the back of your tongue.
  • Plaque build-up around your teeth
  • A prevalent sour, bitter or metallic taste in your mouth
  • Morning breath
  • Postnasal drip

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What Causes Bad Breath

To stop bad breath (known medically as halitosis), first, we have to learn what causes it.  There are some obvious culprits, but there are things you’re doing every day that you might not know are contributing to your pungent problem.  In most cases, bad breath is caused by poor dental hygiene or easily avoidable foods and activities.  However, some bad breath may be caused by more serious issues that should be discussed with your doctor.

Bacteria and Poor Dental Hygiene

Your mouth is full of naturally occurring bacteria.  Bacteria love warm, wet, dark spaces, and your mouth fits that bill to a T.  As we chow down on our favorite foods, the bacteria in our mouths feed on those residual particles.  The bad smell that a dirty mouth exudes is the result of that same bacteria producing waste as they eat (yuck)!

As unappetizing as this may sound, it’s a perfectly natural part of the ecosystem of your mouth.  Just as with your gut, your mouth is comprised of good and bad bacteria that help keep your gums and teeth healthy.  Problems arise when bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria, which can cause more serious issues like gum disease and tooth decay.

This is why having a good oral hygiene routine is so important.  When you fail to brush and floss your teeth, bad bacteria begin to build up, causing plaque and ultimately bad smells.  Floss and brush regularly to dislodge food that will ultimately rot and really make your breath smell bad.  It’s that simple!


This might seem like a no-brainer, but certain foods also cause bad breath.  The first offenders that come to mind are definitely garlic and onions.  These two food favorites are at the top of the halitosis hotlist because of their smelly, sulfurous attributes.  Cysteine sulfide is the compound in these foods that is absorbed into your bloodstream and exuded through your lungs and pores.  And while garlic and onions are tasty, they cause bad breath almost immediately and tend to stick around for a while.

Beverages like coffee or alcohol can cause bad breath, too.  These liquids stifle your mouth’s natural production of saliva.  And less saliva means that bacteria can hang around longer and enjoy the leftovers from the day’s meals.


In addition to being outright bad for you, smoking causes bad breath.  Cigarettes affect the bacteria in your mouth, killing off the good bacteria and helping the bad to flourish.  Smoking damages your lungs and has been proven to cause gum disease, which will definitely make your breath stink.  In addition to bad breath and other health problems, smoking also stains your teeth.  We don’t want to beat a dead horse, but we’re confident in telling you that you shouldn’t smoke, and not just because it contributes to halitosis.


Similarly to alcohol and coffee, some medications can cause dry mouth.  We’re definitely not advising that you stop taking your meds to combat bad breath.  Just don’t be surprised when the problem arises.  The effects of dry mouth are easily countered by drinking water or eating foods that aid in the production of saliva.


If you’ve recently had oral surgery, your mouth is prone to infection.  While your body is healing, the good bacteria in your mouth are working overtime to stay ahead of the bad kind.  If you develop an infection after having a tooth removed or some other issue corrected, contact your dentist or orthodontist.  They may be able to provide you with a medicated rinse, or other means by which to stave off infection. 

Sinus or ear infections can also contribute to halitosis.  If you are experiencing a postnasal drip for a  prolonged period of time, you may notice our breath begin to take a smelly turn.


Sometimes an underlying disease can cause bad breath.  Cancer or other metabolic issues produce bad odors due to the chemicals they produce in your body.  Acid reflux, diabetic ketoacidosis, and other serious problems can also contribute to halitosis.  If you have persistent bad breath that isn’t helped by typical means, be sure to see your doctor just to rule out other health concerns.

Home Remedies For Bad Breath

Most bad breath can be easily taken care of with easy at-home remedies.  Some of these solutions may even surprise you!

Dental Hygiene

The first defense against bad breath is maintaining a good oral hygiene routine.  It’s important to brush at least twice a day, and floss once a day.  Brushing your teeth removes plaque buildup and bacteria that contribute greatly to bad mouth odors.  Some people even brush between meals, just to keep their breath fresh and work-ready.

Be sure to practice proper brushing and flossing techniques for the best results.  Don’t forget to give your gums and tongue some affection too, as bacteria like to hide and hang out in those areas.  In addition to combatting bad breath, a steady oral hygiene routine also keeps your smile beautiful, bright, and white.

Your dentist can help you learn about the best oral hygiene practices during your routine cleanings.



Parsley is an age-old remedy for bad breath.  And for good reason.  Studies have shown that parsley helps to neutralize smelly sulfur compounds found in your favorite foods.  Its strong flavor and scent, in combination with chlorophyll content, may help reduce bad breath.  Just remember to brush your teeth and floss afterward to avoid it getting stuck in your teeth.


These fragrant seeds have been used since ancient times to combat bad breath.  They’re aromatic and contain natural essential oils.  They also taste good and are often used as an after-dinner palate cleanser.  Eat them plain, roasted, or in some cases, coated in sugar as a natural dinner mint substitute.

Fruits High in Vitamin C

As we mentioned earlier, dry mouth can cause bad breath.  That’s why eating fruits like oranges or pineapples can help fight halitosis.  The tart quality of vitamin C promotes saliva production, and that keeps the bacteria and food particles in your mouth moving, keeping your breath sweet and fresh!

Green tea

Green tea may help neutralize bad odors in your mouth.  In addition to being full of healthy antioxidants, research shows that green tea has natural disinfectant and deodorizing properties that help the good bacteria in your mouth fight the kind that makes your breath smell bad.

Gum and Mouthwash

Tried and tested, gum and mouthwash are dependable solutions for bad breath.  Many of these products contain zinc, and research shows that it works to reduce the sulfurous attributes of the compounds that cause bad breath.


Some mouthwashes are also antibacterial and are very good at controlling bad breath.  In fact, many dentists recommend incorporating mouthwash into your everyday oral hygiene routine.  Swishing with mouthwash helps to dislodge food stuck between teeth, and gets into places your toothbrush or dental floss may not be able to reach.

What Your Dentist Can Do For Bad Breath

It’s really important to see your dentist at least once a year for an annual cleaning.  Your dentist has tools that can get plaque and other bad-breath causing particulates out of your mouth.  Additionally, they have the advantage of being able to see your entire mouth.


Your dentist can also help you determine if your bad breath is being caused by something more serious like gum disease, a rotting tooth, or even an underlying health issue.


Routine visits are essential to overall good oral health, and we love to see your beautiful smile!

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Posted by Miles Moore at 9:33 AM
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