Brushing is a daily part of responsible dental care. But for patients with needs that transcend basic cleaning, a simple toothbrush may not suffice. From the halitosis causing volatile sulfur compounds to common cures to use in addition to a toothbrush, we explore the causes and solutions to the problem of halitosis.

Otherwise known as bad breath, halitosis is a condition that plagues millions of Americans. One of the worst aspects of halitosis is that those who have it may not even know. As awkward as it may sound, the best way to diagnose halitosis is to ask a friend.

Major Causes Of Halitosis

To know how to get rid of halitosis, it’s a good first move to understand how it’s caused. Causes of halitosis vary, but 90% of cases of halitosis are caused by one factor. That factor is known as volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), and they are caused by breakdowns of proteins by bacteria in the mouth.

VSCs are not the only cause of halitosis. The way you fight or prevent bad breath may depend on the cause, so attaining a thorough understanding of the cause that affects you is a critical part in fighting it. These are some of the most common causes of halitosis:

Tobacco Products

Those who smoke or dip are at a greater risk of having chronic halitosis. The odorous effects of tobacco are amplified by the damage it causes to the gums and mouth. Since gum disease and other dental problems can cause bad breath, it’s clear that tobacco products are a major source of halitosis.

Certain Foods

Some foods like onions and garlic get a bad reputation for causing bad breath. For those particularly odiferous foods, they enter your bloodstream after the digestion process and this leads to halitosis. Normal foods can cause halitosis as well simply by breaking down in and around your teeth.

To prevent halitosis from food, it’s important to maintain effective dental habits and to be aware of the foods you frequently consume.


Thousands of medications are used for varying purposes, and some of them can create conditions for halitosis. One way that medications can cause bad breath is by drying out your mouth. A second way medications can be a source of halitosis is by releasing medicinal chemicals that affect your breath in a negative way.

If you notice either of these effects from a medication that you use, speak with your doctor about an alternate medication or ways to combat your halitosis.

Dry Mouth

Since saliva plays a key role in keeping your mouth clean and fresh, a lack of saliva can lead to halitosis. Causes of dry mouth are widely varied and include everything from sleep to medications. The infamous condition known as morning breath is caused by waking with a dry mouth after a night of sleep.

Luckily, it’s easy to know when you get dry mouth, and when it’s time to take extra steps to improve your breath. If in doubt, ask a friend, trusted family member or dentist to ensure that your breath has no problems.

Poor Dental Hygiene

Those with sub-standard dental habits may leave small particles of food in their mouths. Bacteria in your mouth is known as plaque, and accumulated plaque will cause irritation in the gums which lead to bad breath. This can be expected to get worse as your dental health declines.

Mouth Infections

Infections of the mouth and throat are also a major cause of halitosis. This can include wounds you’ve acquired post-surgery, or as a result of dental ailments like tooth decay or dental sores. Certain diseases can also create the conditions that lead to halitosis. If you have an unusual case of halitosis, visit your dentist to find out if an infection is to blame.

Why Can’t A Toothbrush Cure Halitosis?

A toothbrush is a valuable tool in the fight for optimal dental care. However, a toothbrush’s effectiveness in combating halitosis will depend entirely upon your symptoms. For example, if the cause of your halitosis involves a medication you’re taking or throat infection, then brushing will only serve to cover up the symptoms. Solving the problem of halitosis requires that you know the cause.

How Can A Toothbrush Help My Bad Breath?

While not the complete cure for halitosis, a toothbrush can still be a worthy weapon in the fight against bad breath. In addition to maintaining proper dental care habits, a toothbrush can be used to thoroughly clean your tongue. Cleaning the tongue is a major step towards fighting bad breath, and numerous tongue cleaning products are available to make it a convenient process.

Exploring Other Solutions To Halitosis

The ideal solution to cure your halitosis is directly related to the cause. If odiferous foods are the cause, then brushing and avoiding those foods at important times may be enough of a cure. But if your terrible mouth funk is due to a throat ailment, medication or other internal reason, then antibiotics may be required. Here are some of the other remedies to halitosis:

Stay Well Hydrated

Since dry mouth is a major cause of halitosis, staying well hydrated will help mitigate these symptoms. In absence of saliva, consuming extra fluids will help stave off bad breath. The extra moisture in the mouth will prevent halitosis-causing bacteria from growing and will keep your body healthy and hydrated in the process.

Use A Tongue Cleaner

While your toothbrush can be used, various tongue cleaners are available for a  thoroughly cleaning. This does a lot to prevent bad breath because the tongue is a significant source of bacteria, and can be a major source of halitosis. If you only have a toothbrush, it is still worth it to brush your tongue daily to ensure that you never have to deal with the embarrassment of chronic bad breath.

Avoid Caffeine

There are several reasons to avoid caffeinated drinks when you’re suffering from halitosis. Caffeine is known to dehydrate the body, and a dry mouth is a haven for bad breath. A second reason to avoid caffeine if you have halitosis is that many popular caffeinated beverages are prime causes of bad breath. Coffee, for example, is very bitter and is known to have a powerful effect on the breath.

Avoid Tobacco

There are a lot of reasons to avoid all forms of tobacco, and foul smelling breath is among them. Not only is halitosis known to cause lung cancer, COPD, and other serious diseases, but tobacco is also damaging to the breath. Whether you use chewing tobacco or smoke cigarettes, your breath will suffer the consequences. Those who have bad breath would do well to completely avoid tobacco.

Consume Fenugreek Tea

Fenugreek is a herb that grows in the Mediterranean, and its seeds contain a lot of nutrients that are beneficial to your health. These include Vitamin C, protein, niacin and other vital nutrients. These fenugreek seeds can be made into a tea by boiling a teaspoon of them in 500ml of water. Drinking this tea will grant nutritional benefits, and will do a lot to fight your bad breath symptoms.

Make Tea With Cloves or Parsley

Cloves, clove oil and parsley are all known to fight halitosis. The best way to consume these potent herbs is to boil them into a tea. To make this halitosis-fighting tea, boil water with fresh, chopped parsley and add cloves to the mixture. While not all herbal remedies are effective, research has shown that cloves and parsley are excellent solutions to the problem of bad breath.

What’s Your First Step To Curing Bad Breath?

To effectively combat your bad breath, the first step must be to identify the cause. Once the source of your bad breath is known, then the appropriate one of the many cures can be applied to eliminate the overall problem rather than just the symptoms.

Call the Center for Breath Treatment 

If the 6 remedies mentioned here combined with proper dental hygiene aren’t enough to cure your bad breath, the professionals at the Center for Breath Treatment can help. Using the latest and most effective treatments for halitosis, the dental professionals at the Center for Breath Treatment are experts at solving the problem of halitosis. Contact us now for advice or to make an appointment at our clinic in Berkeley, California.