How To Get Rid of Bad Breath

a little girl brushing her teeth

The proper oral care needed to get rid of bad breath and prevent it from coming back.

Have you ever been disappointed by an oral care product's claim that it will eliminate your bad breath only to find that it only masks your bad breath temporarily? Read this article in order to discover how to truly get rid of bad breath. It is not as easy as the market would have you believe, but it is possible with the right knowledge, tools, and actions.

A Brief Overview of What Causes Bad Breath

Bad breath is caused by an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria producing foul smelling gasses due to one or more of the following:

This article is going to focus on treating the main cause of bad breath: Poor oral hygiene. 90% of the cases of halitosis are due to anaerobic bacteria in the mouth, and proper oral hygiene can usually fix it. If you suspect that it might be caused by one of the other causes of bad breath such as dry mouth, sinus/throat/oral infections, post nasal drip, allergies, tonsil stones, or gum diseases - seek help from a qualified professional or read our articles on those specific causes.

Read our for article on What Causes Bad Breath for more information on the causes and symptoms of bad breath.

Get Professional Help

If you are serious about getting your bad breath under control and if you haven't been to the dentist in the past year, you need to visit the dentist and get a check-up and a cleaning. You may have some oral problems that you don't know about that are causing bad breath. Tartar and plaque contribute to the growth of bacteria so it would be a good idea to get a good cleaning to remove as much of that as possible.

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

Since we know what causes bad breath: Friendly Environment + Food + Time, we can figure out how to eliminate bad breath. The equation is fairly simply:

Remedy for Bad Breath

  1. Get rid of proteins the bacteria eat
  2. Create a unfriendly environment for the bacteria
  3. Time

We will now go through each of these steps and elaborate on what it means.

1. Get rid of proteins the bacteria eat

Contrary to what the oral care market would have you believe, which toothpaste or mouthwash you use is not that important. What is most important in getting rid of bad breath and preventing it is the consistent mechanical removal of the proteins and particles that anaerobic bacteria feed upon. Going directly after anaerobic bacteria with harsh chemicals such as alcohol in mouthwashes and other antibacterial substances doesn't work as well as one would think. Try it, gargle and swish Listerine after every meal without practising any other oral care and you will find that bad breath returns quickly despite what advertising would leave you to believe. The consistent mechanical removal of the proteins is largely dependant on your technique and the tools you use to remove those proteins such as toothbrushes, floss, tongue scrapers, etc and not the pastes or liquids you buy.

In order to remove the proteins (food particles, dead cells, mucus) the bacteria eat, you need to do more than just brush your teeth. A proper oral care regimen depends on each individual. For example if you have braces, you need to do specific procedures in order to properly clean your teeth. If you have partially erupted wisdom teeth, you need to properly irrigate them. If you suffer from post-nasal drip or allergies, you need to incorporate nasal irrigation into your daily oral care regimen. If you suffer from tonsil stones, you need to remove them regularly.

A Comprehensive Oral Care Regimen

A comprehensive oral care regimen for your average person consists of the following in order of which you do them:

2. Create a unfriendly environment for the bacteria

A mouth that is low in oxygen, is slightly acidic, and that is dry is a prime place for anaerobic bacteria to colonize. In order to create a more uninhabitable environment you need to make sure your mouth isn't dry, is slightly alkaline, and has oxygen.

Saliva contains oxygen so it is important to have good saliva flow in your mouth. In order to increase saliva flow it is important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Also when your mouth feels dry chew on a piece of sugar-free gum or suck on a mint. If you suffer from chronic xerostomia (dry mouth), you should look into products that contain saliva stimulants or substitutes. Check out this list of dry mouth products.

Other than increasing saliva flow, another way to increase oxygen that kills bacteria is to gargle mouthwashes that contain oxygenating chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide. There are also toothpastes that contain these chemicals. Therabreath is a company that contains oxygenating compounds in their products.

In order to lower the acidity in your mouth, you can avoid acidic and spicy foods, or use products that lower acidity. Baking soda is excellent at lowering acid levels. After your oral care regimen or after you eat, you can swish a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) solution for a minute and then spit it out. Do not rinse your mouth out after.

During the day most people snack on food. Although it is not absolutely necessary to brush your teeth after each snack, it is a good idea to snack on foods that minimize bad breath. Read our article on foods that foods and drinks that prevent bad breath. It is also a good idea to be aware of and avoid foods and drinks that cause bad breath.

Probiotics can also create competition in your mouth for the bacteria, where friendly bacteria are competing for the same space as the anaerobic bacteria. Read more about this in our oral probiotics article.

Although creating an unfriendly environment for the anaerobic bacteria is effective, getting rid of the food source for anaerobic bacteria through proper oral care as outlined above is much more important. This step should be thought of as a bonus, because doing this alone will not get rid of bad breath. Creating an unfriendly environment for bacteria is more of a preventative measure against bad breath, rather then a tool for getting rid of it.

3. Time

There is no magic mouthwash, toothpaste, or gum that will get rid of your bad breath and prevent it from coming back. Getting rid of bad breath is not an instant process. It requires patient consistent effort. Do not give up immediately after trying the full oral care regimen above because you notice that your bad breath returns a couple hours later. It takes weeks to reduce the population of anaerobic bacteria to a healthy low level. If you are serious about treating your bad breath or about preventing it from coming back, you need to put in the time and effort. The full oral care regimen above can take awhile, but it is worth it in the end. We know you might lead busy lives, and it is hard to fit proper oral care in. We encourage you to read our article Oral Care on The Go to learn how to maintain fresh breath despite your busy schedule.

How To Prevent Bad Breath From Returning

Preventing bad breath from returning is continuing the same process you used to get rid of your halitosis in the first place: regular dental check-ups from professionals, consistent proper oral hygiene, and avoiding foods and drinks that cause bad breath. If you do the entire oral care regimen listed above each night before bed, you will be on the right track on preventing bad breath from coming back.

Please read the other oral care articles we have on this website. We hope you find this information useful and that you apply it to your life. Please comment below if you have any questions or comments.

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Comments (13)
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I had chronic bad breath for about 10 years. I always suspected it but didn't really realize it was such an issue until it destroyed two serious relationships (in retrospect, it was obvious this was the issue)......trust me, bb is a deal killer no matter how good everything else is with someone. I would brush floss gargle and I would still constantly have this bad tast (kinda sourish) in my mouth even right after I did my oral routinue. Once I got a clue that I wasn't just an unlucky person born this way with no solution, I went to my ENT and wound up having my tonsils removed. That helped somewhat but not nearly fixed problem. Unforcunately many dentists and doctors don't explain the bad vs good bacteria situation at all. I also used different products that never really helped and some that made it worse (like Listerine with alcohol). Bottomline, I dedicated a whole day or how ever long it took to the internet to fiqure out if I had to live this way and be alone forever, or if there was a cure. Long story short....after seriously researching articles for a couple hours, I found this info out and the solutions: If you have bad breath, something is off balance bc breathe should naturally be fresh if doing all other normal oral care. Of course, I read about the imbalance of bacteria....having too much bad and less good. Key solutions I had never tried: gargled with straight 3% hydrogen peroxide for 1 minute. Immediately the bad taste in my mouth was GONE GONE and gone. Not just for an hour, its stayed gone because I gargle every other day with DILUTED HP and water (equal parts) bc straight HP is too strong for every day use and will cause problems bc it kills all good and bad bacteria. I also take a Probiotic pill every day. I have bought the 1MD Complete Probiotics platnium but its like $45 for 30 pills. Based on this article I'm going to find another probiotic with the good bacteria listed in this article which will be cheaper and I'm sure just as effective. One suggestion, is if you are at the end of your rope because of bb, just go gargle with straight HP (only once and maybe eat some yogurt) and see if you can't tell an automatic difference. Its so embarrassing to ask someone to smell your breathe so I ask my 6 year old nephew. Children are the BEST. They are honest and will not think much of it.

by Mary Smith on Dec 31, 2017 | 2:07 AM

Excellent article. I agree you have to put in the work and do a quality job brushing and flossing your teeth and you need to do it consistently in order to not have bad breath. It isn't always easy, but it is worth it!

by Emylia on Jun 20, 2017 | 10:01 AM

mouthwash

bad breath bad

by VANESSA ANN Merriman on Mar 25, 2017 | 6:05 AM

Thank you for the confirmation

I always suspected that what brand of toothpaste or mouthwash I used didn't matter. Thank you for confirming what I had thought. I love your statement: "What is most important in getting rid of bad breath and preventing it is the consistent mechanical removal of the proteins and particles that anaerobic bacteria feed upon." Very enlightening!

by Haylie on Feb 27, 2017 | 2:27 PM

I came across this informative article while looking up on tonsil stones, which I have a problem with. I found this article very informative. Thank you for sharing.

by Syl on Dec 1, 2016 | 1:16 AM

BAD BREATH

Please,I have a serious bad breath.There is always a pungent choking smell from my mouth anytime I talked.I have used all kinds of mouthwash and I have done teeth cleaning but to no avail.Am sad and confused now,so please help me.

by Nana Kwame on Oct 28, 2016 | 11:16 AM

Bad Breath

Thanks for sharing this huge information about bad breath. This article is really helpful for people who are facing these kinds of problems. It is always recommended to avoid food that sour your mouth and scrape your tongue.

by Shahin Safarian on Oct 3, 2016 | 4:55 AM

Ms

Doc, my badbreath is too much. I did my test and I ws told that. Your teeth, mouth is clean. Doc I hve tried brushing ,flossing and mouthwash several times a day,but the problem still persist pls Doc I need your. I hve lost alot

by Aidah on Aug 23, 2016 | 2:00 PM

bad breath lol

just brush your teeth simple as that ya lazy twits

by lol on Jul 20, 2016 | 8:23 PM

badbreath cure

I have a serious bad breath problem from i was a teenager. Sometime ago i made a bad comment to my spouse and his reply to me was "it not me that you smell it is your mouth" i almost died and gone to hell with embarrassment i ask my mother and she said as far as she can remember my breath i had bad breath, until i came across the doctor who help me out and took me of my shame am very happy today that i was cured of these diseas all thanks to dr williamssmith356411@gmail.com or you call via his number +2349054914348

by MR.williams on Nov 19, 2015 | 4:54 PM

bad breath

Fennel seeds are the best cure for bad breath.

by letsbreathe on Mar 26, 2015 | 5:19 PM

Hello I'm wondering if there's anyway or any home remedies I can do to get rid of white tounge it causes bad breath and Iv had it for a few days now and Iv tried pineapple and salt water and it seems to go away for a short amount of time and come back if you have any better remedies also some mouth wash and toothpaste that won't dry my mouth out

by Mymyy on Dec 29, 2014 | 11:59 AM

I have never heard of oil pulling before. It sounds interesting. I will have to try it out.

by Amanda on Oct 15, 2014 | 12:43 AM
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