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How to get rid of bad breath

Woman covering her mouth due to bad breath

Experiencing bad breath is uncomfortable for everyone. Around friends, a spouse, or on a date nobody wants to be told their breath is smelly but thankfully bad breath is easily treatable and can be managed with a few techniques

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath can result from a number of different sources. If you commonly experience bad breath it is important to pay attention to your lifestyle choices in order to determine what your causes might be. 


Bacteria is the most common cause of bad breath. When sugars and starches are left in the mouth, odor producing bacteria called Streptococcus mutans are able to feed and grow. This bacteria lives primarily in cracks, crevices, and other hard to reach places in the mouth where food might get stuck which is why it is important to remember to floss properly and brush multiple times a day. When the bacteria feeds on leftover food it produces a sulfuric odor which is one of the main causes for bad breath. If bad breath is persistent, it may be a sign of a cavity or gum disease (periodontal disease). Cavities form deeper pockets for bacteria to hide.


Smoking using tobacco products may cause chronic bad breath. Tobacco products are one of the leading causes of gum disease which in turn results in bad breath. 


Eating certain foods like garlic and onions are also temporary causes of bad breath. When you eat food it immediately starts to break down in the mouth. Some foods when they break down in the mouth can enter into the bloodstream and reach the lungs which will cause bad breath. Watching the foods that you eat can help to mitigate odors in the mouth. 

Dry Mouth

Saliva is important in keeping the mouth clean in between brushing. Saliva, aside from washing away small bits of food, also contains antimicrobial agents that are a natural protection against odor causing bacteria in the mouth. In fact, dry mouth is one of the main causes of morning breath. If you sleep with your mouth open, the issue may be worse. Chronic dry mouth during the day may lead to bad breath by not washing away dead cells in the mouth and not neutralizing acids that are created as a result from plaque. 


If you wear dentures and are not cleaning them properly it may cause bacteria buildup which will result in unpleasant odors from the mouth. If you are unsure how to properly clean your dentures, talk to your dentist about proper cleaning methods and cleaning product recommendations. You may also wish to speak to your dentist about deodorizing sprays as some cleaning methods only work to mask odors and will not remove the source of them. 

How to treat bad breath

Regardless of your cause of bad breath, treatment options are available in order to reduce or mitigate symptoms. If you have been experiencing bad breath consistently for some time, your first step should be to follow up with a dentist appointment. Your dentist will be able to diagnose what may be causing your bad breath. If you have periodontal disease or plaque buildup a tooth cleaning will help to alleviate symptoms. Brushing your teeth and flossing will remove plaque buildup and making an extra effort to clean tough to reach places will help to keep your breath smelling clean. Brushing your tongue, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth will help to clean and remove dead cells leading to fresher breath as well. You may wish to look into a tongue scraper that can help to clean your tongue in addition to brushing.

If you smoke or use tobacco products you will need to quit. Finding a program in your area that helps to quit may be beneficial. Stopping tobacco use will not only help your breath but will also provide other health benefits to lead a healthier life.

To help combat dry mouth, chewing gum can help produce saliva but also chewing on healthy foods with a crunch will signal the mouth to produce more saliva. Foods like apples and carrots that require a lot of chewing produce saliva that can help to clean the mouth. 

Does Mouthwash Fix Bad Breath?

Using products like can help to mask the effects of bad breath but should not be used as a fix for it. Mouthwash does help to clean the mouth and can remove bacteria, but often the smell may come from deeper in the mouth or even throat where mouthwash doesn’t reach. In some cases, bad breath can even originate from the lungs which will not be fixed by mouthwash. 

Can gum treat bad breath?

Similar to mouthwash, gum only masks the issue of bad breath depending on its cause. If your bad breath is caused by dry mouth, chewing gum may actually help by producing saliva that can help to clean the mouth. However if the cause is gum disease or tobacco use then chewing gum may only provide limited efficacy at masking the problem, not fixing it. 

I don’t smell bad breath when I do the smell test

In most cases, we become unaware of scents that we are surrounded by. The same applies to odor that can originate from the mouth. Blowing into your hand might not reveal the odors that others smell. This can make it difficult to keep track of when we are experiencing bad breath and makes it more important to properly practice dental hygiene in order to combat the symptoms. If you remain on top of a proper oral health care routine you are more likely to remove the causes of bad breath resulting in less symptoms. 

Schedule your appointment

If you experience chronic bad breath, it is time to schedule an appointment with your dentist. The team at Dental365 can look for the causes of bad breath symptoms and provide the treatment you need. Call us today at 844.365.DENTAL or request an appointment through our website at any time!


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