How Do I Get Rid of Bad Breath?

Have you ever frantically searched through your pockets or purse, hoping to find a breath mint? We’ve probably all experienced the embarrassment of bad breath, also known as halitosis, which can strike at the most inopportune moments!

Mints, mouthwashes, breath sprays, gum, etc. certainly come in handy. But, is there something more that can be done to prevent bad breath from happening in the first place? Yes! Let’s take a look at the causes and cures, as well as ways to prevent bad breath in the future.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath is usually a result of diet, lifestyle habits and/or health conditions. Most people can take care of bad breath by simply implementing a few self-care rituals into their daily lives. For more complicated cases, medical professionals can help sort it out.

Here are the most common causes of bad breath:

Oral Microflora (Bacteria)

Hundreds of types of bacteria are naturally found in your mouth, which is a perfectly warm, moist greenhouse for growing bacteria. Not all bacteria is bad. It breaks down food, starting the digestion process. However, it also secretes waste known as VSCs (volatile sulfur compounds), which smell like rotten eggs.


Maybe you’ve had the uncomfortable experience of watching someone step away from you with a grimace on his face. Obviously, food particles left in your teeth, especially from pungent foods like garlic, onions, and spices, can leave a strong odor. Even if you clean your teeth after eating, digested foods enter your bloodstream and are carried to your lungs, affecting your breath. Eating too many sugary foods can also contribute to bad breath; fermenting in your stomach and bringing upward a foul smell. Some people have sour breath from eating a lot of dairy products. Coffee contains sulfur, which causes bad breath. Alcohol and soda can cause bad breath by triggering acid reflux and dry mouth.

Tobacco products

Smokers and oral tobacco users are more likely than non-smokers to have gum disease, which causes bad breath. Since smoking affects the sense of smell, smokers may not be aware of how bad their breath smells.

Poor dental hygiene

Not taking care of your teeth properly causes tooth decay and unpleasant odors. If plaque is not brushed away, you can end up with smelly, destructive plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis).

Dry mouth

Saliva, which is 99% water, is designed to cleanse the mouth day and night. Some people have dry mouth or xerostomia (zeer–o-STOE-me-uh), which contributes to foul breath. Morning breath is often caused by dry mouth and snoring. Eating too much salt, overdoing it on caffeine, and taking certain medications can also cause dry mouth.


Bad breath can be a warning sign of infection in your mouth. It may be connected to recent oral surgery that isn’t healing quite right, tooth decay, gum disease, or canker sores.

Sinus, nose, and throat conditions

Chronic inflammation in the nasal passage contributes to postnasal drip, which is a very common cause of bad breath. A rare cause is the presence of small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria.

Other causes

Certain cancers and metabolic disorders can cause breath odor as a result of the chemicals they produce. Chronic acid reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease are also bad breath producers. Some medications cause dry mouth or release chemicals that show up in your breath. Bad breath in children can be caused by food lodged inside the nose.

What cures bad breath?

There are some things that take care of it temporarily and other options that have a long-lasting effect. We will look at both.

Drink Pure Water

Keeping hydrated is the best thing you can do for your breath and overall health! And fluoridated water from your municipal water department helps your teeth, too. It’s best to take a few sips every half hour rather than gulp down huge cups of water every once in a while. After meals, swish water around inside your mouth to wash away leftover food particles. Add cucumbers or herbs to your water to make it more refreshing!

Cut Out Odor Causing Foods

Instead of eating sugary snacks, grab a beautiful piece of fruit! Smoothies can be enjoyed with natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or just the fruit itself. If dairy causes bad breath, perhaps you could try non-dairy milks, yogurts and ice creams. Eating whole foods will help you have a healthier, sweeter-smelling mouth!

Keep Saliva Flowing

Cut back on salt and eat foods that require a lot of chewing, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Chew sugar-free gum or sugar-free candy to stimulate saliva. For chronic dry mouth, your dentist or physician may prescribe an artificial saliva preparation or an oral medication that stimulates the flow of saliva.


Over-the-counter mouthwashes help, but you can’t get away from the reality that you must brush and floss! If you have infected gums, your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic mouth wash.

Brush and Floss

Your dentist may recommend antibacterial toothpaste to prevent plaque buildup. Brush at least twice a day, and floss once a day. Remember to clean your tongue using a tongue scraper! We recommend Oral-B or Sonicare ETB. 

Tongue Scrapers

If you spot a white or brown coating on your tongue, especially on the back of your tongue, it could be a buildup of bacteria. A tongue scraper will help!

Dentures, retainers, and mouthguards

If you wear a removable retainer, mouth guard, bridge, or dentures, take them out every night, and preferably between meals, to clean them thoroughly.

Visit your dentist regularly for tooth cleaning and dental checkups.

Regular 3-6 month checkups with your dentist will help you take care of your teeth and breath. A professional can see what we cannot see and help us take care of cavities, gum disease, or dry mouth problems before they get any worse. If it has been a while since you’ve seen a dentist, you can call and make an appointment today.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is an unhealthy habit that affects every aspect of your life. If you get rid of tobacco, you will also help.

What about chronic bad breath?

If you struggle constantly with bad breath, take some time to consider the list above. Are there any improvements you can make in your lifestyle habits? If you’ve done everything you can, perhaps it’s time to consult with your dentist specifically about bad breath.

Preparing for your appointment

Early morning appointments are best because you will not have had a lot to eat or drink during the day which may cause foul breath. Avoid wearing perfume, scented hairspray or lotion, and scented lip gloss, as these can all detract from the dentist’s evaluation. If you’ve taken antibiotics recently, wait about three weeks before meeting with your dentist.

Be ready to answer questions, such as:

  1. When did your chronic bad breath begin?
  2. Do you have sinus issues, allergies, or other ear/nose/throat conditions?
  3. Is your breath bad only at certain times of the day or all the time?
  4. How often do you clean your teeth by brushing, flossing, and rinsing?
  5. Do you usually breathe through your mouth or nose?
  6. Have you noticed that certain foods or drinks cause your breath to be worse?
  7. Are you taking any vitamins, essential oils, or medications?
  8. Do you snore when you sleep?
  9. What do you suspect might be causing your bad breath?
  10. Have other people noticed and commented on your bad breath?

Your dentist will tell you what he thinks may be causing your bad breath. Then, he will recommend an action plan to help you conquer most of your bad breath, once and for all.

You don’t need to feel embarrassed! It is a common struggle. If you feel self-conscious about meeting with your dentist to discuss this issue, remember, we are here for you and it brings us great joy to make your life better! Please feel free to contact Westdale Dental if you have any questions or need to meet with a dentist. You can make an appointment today!