Halitosis: Bad Breath and It’s Causes

Could I have Halitosis?

Bad Breath Causes

We’ve all smelled it, whether from a loved one, a stranger, a patient, or a coworker. So what is it? Let’s take a more in-depth look at what causes bad breath and how it impacts our overall health. Topics we’ll cover include:

  • What are some common causes of bad breath?
  • Is there a connection between bad breath and other medical conditions?
  • Ways to help combat bad breath; bad breath treatment.

Why do people have bad breath causes even after brushing? Between 50 and 60% of the population are affected by bad breath.

There are some reasons people might experience bad breath, some being harmless, and others could be a sign of something more serious. Either way, bad breath can have a serious impact on many things, including relationships. Not only can bad breath keep others at bay, but bad breath can also have a negative impact on self-esteem.

bleeding gums hiding from patient


  • The foul odor of bad breath is usually caused by a group of anaerobic, sulfur-producing bacteria that breed beneath the tongue and in the throat and tonsil area. They occur naturally in the oral environment and are essential for the digestion of proteins found in food, mucus, phlegm, blood, and diseased oral tissues.
  • As the bacteria feed on proteins in the mouth, sulfur compounds are released from the back of the tongue and throat, releasing a foul odor (bad breath). They excrete waste as hydrogen sulfide and an odorous, bad-tasting compound known as volatile sulfur.  

**With all of the different kinds of bacteria living in our mouths, some can cause bad breath. Gram-negative bacteria on the tongue may be the cause of most foul odors, but no single type of bacteria creates bad breath.

Overall Health: Infections in the mouth can be responsible for bad breath causes. Also, health problems such as sinus or lung conditions, bronchitis, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease can be sources of bad breath.  

Linking Odors to Medical Conditions:

  • A sweet or fruity odor may be related to uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Ammonia odors may be related to liver disease.
  • A urine-like fishy odor may be related to chronic kidney failure.
  • Fecal odor may be related to intestinal blockage.

**If a patient says their breath tastes/smells like any of these, have them seek their medical provider’s attention.

Learn about Oral Thrush

How to Keep Bad Breath to a Minimum:

Temporary Solutions:

  • Brush regularly, floss, use a mouth rinse, chew gum, have your teeth cleaned regularly, use a tongue scraper, quit smoking, and keep the saliva flowing.
  • A more permanent solution for prevention includes: Keeping a good balance of the right microbes within your mouth.
  • Eat fibrous fruits and vegetables. Eating an apple a day also helps moisten the mouth.
  • Take a dietary supplement such as Vitamin D, C, E, and B, which can eliminate excess mucus and toxins.
  • Drink green and black teas help eliminate sulfur compounds and reduce oral bacteria.
  • Use an oral probiotic. Oral probiotics come in many different forms, such as dissolving tablets, mints, mouthwashes, gum, or toothpaste. They give good bacteria more of a chance to begin colonizing areas affected by odorous bacteria.
    Example: TheraBreath

Treating Tonsil Stones:

Gargle with an antiseptic mouth rinse such as Chlorhexidine followed by gargling with a probiotic mouthwash solution.

If you have concerns about bad breath and would like to know more about bad breath treatment, any of our gentle family dentists would be happy to help. Routine dental cleanings are essential and can help target bad breath concerns before becoming a more serious issue. Any dental clinic that offers family dentistry services is a great place to start. Your oral health is our priority when you come to our West Lincoln Dental clinic.

The information on this page was written by Dr. Christine Bergman.

This gentle Lincoln, NE dentists, says: “My team and I will go out of our way to ensure you feel at home. We take the time to understand all of your concerns because we genuinely care. Let us help improve your health with the most advanced dental techniques in a soothing, relaxing environment. We are the gentle dentists in Lincoln, NE.”

You can schedule with this Lincoln, NE dentist, or her partners, online 24/7 at a Nebraska Family Dentistry Location near you. This “dentist near me” serves the local communities close to Lincoln. Some of the communities include Waverly, Davey, Raymond, Garland, Ceresco, Greenwood, and Malcolm, Roca, Bennet, Firth, Crete, Hickman, and many more!

dental payment plans
Make easy, affordable payments for your procedure with dental payment plans we offer.
cred south lincoln family dental lincoln ne

Nebraska Family Dentistry has multiple locations!
Choose any location convenient for you.

LDP-state of nebraska approved

No Dental Insurance?
No Problem

Visit Lincoln Dental Plans

dental payment plans logo

Affordable Dental Care

Make easy, affordable payments for your procedure with dental payment plans we offer.

care credit

Healthcare Financing,
Made Easy

Visit Care Credit

Schedule Day or Night

Schedule your dental appointment at anytime of the day or night with our online scheduling.

Schedule Online day or night logo from dentist in Lincoln NE near me Dr. Sullivan.