Bad breath is an embarrassing and distracting problem to have and sometimes requires a trip to the dentist. This condition can have many sources, and sometimes it is difficult to pin down the exact reason for bad breath.

What are the causes of bad breath?

Bad breath is known as halitosis in the medical field. Dentists can usually trace its origin after a simple checkup. Tooth decay or an infection might cause a foul smell. Other times, stomach issues or acid reflux can cause bad breath.

Poor oral hygiene

Brushing and flossing daily is a key part of keeping bad breath at bay. Food particles and residue from beverages can stay in the mouth, feeding bacteria. Skipping even one brushing session can let bacteria build up, especially on the tongue. Bacteria will often hide between teeth or at the back of the tongue. When cavities are allowed to form, the tooth decay tends to have a sharp odor.

Periodontal disease

When bacteria advances, it can cause plaque buildup on teeth. The plaque can then reach all the way to the gums where toxins begin to form. These toxins irritate the gums, and the vicious cycle continues until the gums are inflamed. Bad breath and a nasty taste in the mouth are some of the main symptoms of periodontitis, gum disease.

Dry mouth

The purpose of saliva is to moisten the mouth and counteract the acidity produced by bacteria. Saliva production must be at a good level for the mouth to be healthy. Dead cells can begin to accumulate on the tongue, cheeks and gums when saliva is low. These cells decompose over time and cause bad breath.


Eating strong-smelling foods like garlic or onions can cause temporary bad breath. Sometimes it can linger for a few days if you do not brush well. Sugary foods and drinks can nourish bacteria production. Alcohol can dehydrate you and cause dry mouth that will hinder healthy saliva production.

How your dentist can help treat bad breath

You may think the dentist only fixes problems, but they can prevent them as well. The best cure for halitosis is stopping it before it happens. If you are experiencing bad breath, a dentist will be able to point you in the right direction.

Oral hygiene strategies

Your dentist will always recommend brushing your tongue to rid bacteria. Bacteria and food particles at the back of the tongue are usually one of the top causes for bad breath. A dentist can also suggest other products that may stop your bad breath. For example, using an antimicrobial mouthwash will decrease bacteria.

Dental Cleanings

Frequent dental cleanings will help fight halitosis, so make sure to see the dentist every six months. Not only does this keep your mouth healthy, but your dentist can see other signs of more concerning conditions like receding gums or oral cancer.

Do you need to see the dentist?

Do you think you have bad breath? Even worse, has someone made a comment about your breath? If so, call our office to schedule a visit. Seeing a dentist can improve your breath, smile and confidence.

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