Bad Breath – What Causes It and How to Remove?


What is causing my bad breath? As a dental hygienist with over 20 years in the business, I get this question more than any other.  I don’t have a simple answer, its a complicated topic. I’ll break this into two parts. Part one is the most common cause, and part two being the lesser causes.

1.) gum disease

Bad Breath can be caused by a minor case of gingivitis or a more aggressive form of gum disease called periodontitis. Both are the result of poor oral hygiene. If your gums bleed while brushing or flossing, or if you notice a foul odor while flossing,  poor oral hygiene is probably the culprit. Therefore, learn the BASS method of brushing, and start flossing at least three times per week. Listerine would be a good addition as well, but only use once a day as it can dry out your mouth, which is a lesser cause of bad breath

2.) sinus drainage

Where I live in Texas, sinus infections are seasonal events, and usually, occur in late fall and early spring. This can cause post nasal drip that contributes to bad breath. A good home test to perform is from a sitting position, hang your head down toward your knees. If you notice pressure in your sinus cavity, this could be the cause of your bad breath. Sinus and allergy medications can usually help.

3.) acid reflux

The odor is not coming from your mouth or sinus cavity but from your gut. If you have “spooky burps” where a small amount of something spooky comes up when you burp, this can cause bad breath. Proton pump inhibitors like Nexium and Prilosec are used to control this reflux action. However, make sure you are properly evaluated by a doctor; acid reflux can become a serious condition if left unchecked. 

Lesser causes of bad breath

Prescriptions Medications

There are literally hundreds of medications with this side effect. The reduced saliva flow caused by these medications changes the normal bacteria balance in your mouth allowing the bad odor-causing bacteria to thrive. Short of a medication change, there’s not a whole lot you can do other than utilize a saliva substitute.


This one goes without saying. If you smoke, you are doing some serious damage to your body so please try to quit. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Smoking dry’s out the mouth which changes the bacterial balance, not to mention leaving your kisser smelling like an ashtray.

High Protein – Low Carb Diets

Carbs have gotten a bad rap lately, but they are needed. If the body doesn’t get enough carbs it can trigger changes to your body’s metabolism which can lead to bad breath. High protein foods are more difficult to digest and may release sulfur gases due to longer metabolism time. Remember, fruits are carbs too. If you’re into low carb, you can still stay away from the processed carbohydrates like wheat and corn, but try to consume healthy carbs like oranges or apples to balance all the protein.


Whoever came up with processed sugar should have their ass kicked. I honestly can’t think of one good thing that comes from this product. In addition to contributing to obesity and diabetes, it can also trigger bad breath. Your naturally occurring oral bacteria feeds on these sugars creating foul smells as a byproduct of sugar metabolism. If you need sugar use natural honey or sugar in the raw, (turbino).


Alcohol acts like the previously listed medications, in that it can cause dry mouth. In excess can reduce saliva production allowing bad bacteria to flourish. An excess of alcohol would be more than two servings per day.

Tonsil stones

Individuals who have chronic tonsillitis or tonsil inflammation are at risk of developing tonsil stones. The symptoms of tonsil stones include bad breath, a sore throat and difficulty swallowing or feeling that there is a foreign object in the back of the throat. The stones are formed from calcified materials such as dead cells, bacteria and mucous that become trapped around the tonsils. The stones are mainly composed of calcium, but other minerals may be present as well. Tonsil stones are generally not harmful. They look like a small white ball and smell awful.

However as previously stated the most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Therefore If you think you fit into the poor oral hygiene category then perform the following.

Learn the Bass method of tooth brushing

This ensures that you will be brushing 45 degrees into the gum line where all the bacteria are hiding. If you need help with this tooth brushing method go to Amazon and purchase the  MD Brush. It’s designed for the Bass method and breaks the cycle of poor tooth brushing. However, be prepared; if you’ve spent your entire life brushing on autopilot without any consideration to what you were physically doing, changing to the Bass method will be like driving on the left side of the road in Scotland for the very 1st time. Be patient, your teeth are worth it. Usually, 2-3 days with the MD Brush is average to break the cycle and retrain the arm.


Yes, I know it sucks, and nobody does it but we’re preventing gingivitis, right? Personally, and professionally, I’m OK if you floss 3 times a week, BUT there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Simply popping the floss in between the teeth won’t cut the mustard or should I say goop. You must scrape the teeth, which means pulling or pushing against the teeth when the floss goes up and down in between. Oh, and those little wishbone thingies with the floss in-between; not a fan.If you’re going to take the time to floss, do it the right, and use the stuff that wraps around your digits. I like the GLIDE brand.

If you think you have periodontal disease, notice pus, or have teeth that are loose; make an appointment with your dentist today. Periodontal disease is serious and can put you at higher risk for heart disease and a few other nasties not to mention a full plate denture.

The MD Brush is available on Amazon

Watch this video to see how it works.


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Discover A Better Angle To Perfect Oral Health


The MD Brush is the only toothbrush designed to target the areas below the gumline where bacterial plaque enters the bloodstream. 

Healthy Gums For A Healthy Body!

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