January 22, 2015

Bad Breath Unveiled

“I brush and floss, but I still have bad breath.” This is a familiar concern that many people have. Bad breath can be a result of many things. It’s through the process of elimination that we’ll discover what may be causing your bad breath.

Dry Mouth

One of the possible causes is dry mouth.

Saliva is important in helping to neutralize plaque acids, as well as removing food particles from the teeth. With time, a dry mouth can even cause tooth decay.

So what causes dry mouth? Again, you’ll find that there are many things that can contribute but here are some of the more common causes:

  • A person’s medication may contain drying agents. So it’s important to drink plenty of water, or chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol may help.
  • Additionally as people get older, saliva naturally slows in production.
  • Poor breathing habits (mouth-breathing).

Health Conditions

Bad breath can also be caused by disorders or diseases, such as some cancers and metabolic disorders. A distinct, bad breath odor can be produced from a result of chemicals produced from the byproducts of disorders or diseases.

If a fishy smell is noticed, the cause could be kidney or liver failure or diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes could also cause a fruity breath odor. Chronic reflux of stomach acids, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), has also been associated with bad breath.

Sinus Conditions

Your sinuses can affect your breath. Obviously things like a sinus infection may cause bad odors, but something like Post Nasal Drip also has a connection to bad breath. Post Nasal Drip occurs when an excess in mucus “drips” down the back of your throat. It creates an environment ripe for bacteria.

Tonsil nuggets or stones may also be caused in-part by your sinuses. When debris and mucous get trapped in pockets, the bacteria build up. This causes the stones to form and reside in the little pockets of the tonsils.


If you’re suffering from bad breath, you may also want to assess your diet. Certain foods can cause odors in the mouth like garlic and onions.

The digestive process begins in the mouth and then the food is passed through the digestive system, where it is more digested and absorbed. Strong foods (like garlic and onions) have such strong odors that when the particles are passed through the bloodstream, and more specifically the lungs, air is exhaled with the strong odor.

Even with brushing, flossing, or rinsing, the breath odor may not disappear, until the foods have passed through the whole body.

Poor Habits

Most people brush their tongue, but they may not be getting the back of the tongue where most of the bacteria are harbored. In addition to the tongue, bacteria are also contained between the teeth and gums, thus contributing to gum disease (gingivitis) or periodontal disease (periodontitis).

Smoking can also cause bad breath. Smoking can dry out the oral cavity and mucosas, so this can cause its own unpleasant mouth odor. Smoking and the use of tobacco can also contribute to periodontal disease, and periodontal disease can also cause bad breath, due to the bacteria stored around the teeth.

But the most common cause is poor oral hygiene. You may be flossing and brushing, but you may not be doing it correctly. The best thing you can do is talk with your dentist or hygienist. If you haven’t been to the dentist for awhile, you most likely have build up on your teeth that can only be removed with special dental tools. At your regular visits, your hygienist will be able to help you with your at-home technique for brushing and flossing.