Halitosis: Bad Breath and It’s Causes

Could I have Halitosis?

Bad Breath Causes

We’ve all smelled it, whether it’s 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 has an affect on 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 a person might experience bad breath, some being harmless and others could be a sign of something more serious.

Image of a guy covering his mouth and wondering about bad breath causes in Lincoln, NE.


  • 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, which in turn releases 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, there are some of them that can cause bad breath. Gram-negative bacteria on the tongue may be the cause of most of the foul odors, but no single type of bacteria creates bad breath on its own.

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 also be the source of bad breath.  

Linking Odors to Medical Conditions:

  • Sweet or fruity odor may be related to uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Ammonia odors may be related to liver disease.
  • 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 on a regular basis, use a tongue scraper, quit smoking, and keep the saliva flowing in your mouth.
  • 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 help the body 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 the good bacteria more of a chance to begin colonizing areas affected with 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 important and can help target concerns of bad breath before they become 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. Ben Joekel.

This gentle Lincoln, NE dentists says: “My goal as your dentist is to listen to your concerns and needs when it comes to your dental health. Once your concerns are addressed, our goal as a team is to provide you with exceptional care that makes you feel comfortable.”

You can schedule with this Lincoln, NE dentist online 24/7 at his West Lincoln Location of Nebraska Family Dentistry. This Lincoln, NE dentist serves the local communities in Garland, Pleasant Dale, Denton, Crete, Milford, Hickman, Roca, Martell, and Panama.

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

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Coddington Dental is a proud member of Nebraska Family Dentistry. We’re one of multiple NFD locations, some of which are even open on weeknights and weekends for your convenience.

Each NFD team member is trained to go above and beyond to keep our patients calm and comfortable, so you can expect the same exceptional care from all of our sister locations.

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