For anyone who’s ever struggled with bad breath, you know the struggle can be real. Sometimes it’s hard to get through the day without people avoiding you or leaning away when they talk to you.
I know what it’s like to struggle with bad breath—I’ve been there myself! It can be incredibly embarrassing and prevent you from doing the things you love. Some people have even said that they don’t want to go out in public because of it.
If you’re one of those people who are struggling with bad breath, don’t panic! There are ways to get rid of it.
What Causes Bad Breath?
The first thing you should know about bad breath (bb) is that it’s not always a sign of a medical problem. Many people have it because of poor dental hygiene or lifestyle choices.
The causes of bad breath vary depending on the person; however, it is important to understand your specific situation so you can take the right steps to minimize or eliminate them.
Some common causes include:
- The most common cause of bad breath is poor dental hygiene
- Spicy foods, garlic, and onions can give you bad breath
- Dry mouth may also cause halitosis
- Tonsil stones contribute to bad breath in some people
- Acid reflux can also be a contributing factor
- Gluten allergy and lactose intolerance may be linked to halitosis in some individuals
- Smoking and oral tobacco use can cause bad breath
- Postnasal drip, a common sinus problem, may also be responsible for causing bad breath
How to Eliminate Bad Breath
While some cases are chronic and might necessitate regular dental visits, there are also things you can do to eliminate bad breath at home. For those of you who don’t know where to begin, here are some suggestions that might help.
1. Floss your teeth daily
The bacteria that you do not want in your mouth are anaerobic: they die in oxygen. Bacteria grow in tiny habitats called biofilms (dental plaque), which coat the surfaces of teeth and gums. Flossing disrupts these biofilms and can help prevent cavities.
Flossing at night is more effective than flossing in the morning. The food particles trapped between teeth while sleeping can lead to bad breath in the morning. When you floss, be sure to scrape the sides of your teeth that your toothbrush does not reach.
2. Try using a water flosser
If you’ve been avoiding flossing because it’s a hassle, or because you can’t quite get into those hard-to-reach places in your mouth, then a water flosser or oral irrigator might be just what you need.
You can purchase a Waterpik at most pharmacies and retail stores. If you wear braces, crowns, or other dental implants, a Waterpik may be more convenient than regular flossing. Adding mouthwash to your Waterpik is another way to achieve a clean, fresh-mouth feeling.
The Waterpik also provides more thorough cleaning than regular brushing alone because it uses a high-pressure stream of water to remove particles that might otherwise remain on the surface of your teeth.
Water flossers are more expensive than traditional dental floss, but they can be worth the cost if you’re busy and don’t have time to take care of your teeth manually.
3. Brushing your teeth twice a day
Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. It’s important to brush all surfaces in your mouth: the cheeks, the roof of your mouth, and the gums. Use an electric toothbrush if you can—it’s a lot more effective. Rinse out your mouth, but don’t rinse too soon. The goal is to give the fluoride enough time in your saliva so that it can provide prolonged protection.
It’s important to wait at least 15 minutes after brushing before eating or drinking anything because this gives the fluoride in your enamel a chance to work its magic against acids.
If you find yourself dried out and uncomfortable after brushing your teeth, try using a toothpaste that contains neither sodium lauryl sulfate nor fluoride (such as Weleda Salt Toothpaste or Uncle Harry’s Fluoride Free Toothpaste).
Finally, if you need help keeping your toothbrush clean (and fresh-smelling), try a Steripod or something similar.
4. Get yourself a tongue scraper
The best way to eliminate bad breath is by scraping your tongue with a tongue scraper every day. Scraping your tongue will remove bacteria and food particles from the surface of your tongue, allowing fresh oxygen to come into contact with it—and fresh oxygen helps kill off bacteria! It also helps maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in your mouth.
You can do this with a tongue cleaner like the Orabrush (the metal scrapers are way more effective), or even with a TUNG Brush. Both are designed to reach all areas of your mouth easily, including the back of your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
5. Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash
Try switching to an alcohol-free mouthwash, and see if your bad breath improves. Alcohol-based mouthwashes can dry out your mouth. When the salivary glands are dry, there’s less saliva to wash away bacteria—so stinky stuff can spread quickly.
Although mouthwash is a helpful addition to your oral hygiene routine, you shouldn’t rely on it as a substitute for brushing and flossing.
Rinsing with mouthwash after brushing will wash away the fluoride in toothpaste, leaving your teeth less protected. So try using mouthwash first and then brushing.
We recommend TheraBreath because our tests showed that it lasts up to 12 hours. Smartmouth is another mouthwash option that helps reduce bad breath. It’s formulated with Zinc, an ingredient that can help stop the buildup of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) linked to halitosis. is another great option if you’re looking for a product that offers similar results. Colgate Total Mouthwash containing Zinc Lactate also works well.
You can also try breath strips as an alternative to mouthwash. They’re compact, so you can keep one in your pocket or purse at all times—just unwrap the strip and stick it in your mouth; they’ll melt immediately and give you that fresh-mouth feel!
For a homemade solution, consider trying Manuka honey mouthwash, particularly for children who may find the taste of traditional mouthwash unappealing.
6. Drink more water
Dehydration causes dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath. When your body isn’t getting enough water, your saliva production decreases. That means less fresh saliva is constantly secreted into your mouth and the bacteria that are normally kept under control start to multiply.
Saliva production decreases while sleeping, so if you wake up with bad breath more often than not, consider drinking water before bedtime. The more saliva you have in your mouth, the better it can wash away bacteria and neutralize acids that cause bad breath.
In addition to increasing your water consumption, be sure to eat regularly throughout the day and avoid skipping meals if possible—this will help reduce hunger and decrease your chances of bad breath.
7. Make sure your nose isn’t stuffy
A sinus infection and the presence of bacteria in your sinuses can lead to a stuffy nose. You may find that you have difficulty breathing, as well as a tendency to breathe through your mouth when there’s mucus in your nasal passages.
If you’re breathing through your mouth, the air will dry out your mouth and make it easier for bacteria to grow. That’s why it’s important to clear your nose of congestion if you want to avoid bad breath.
Use a Breathe Right nasal strip at night. It’ll provide relief from nighttime nasal congestion and help keep your airways clear so that you can breathe easier as you sleep. If that doesn’t help, try using a Netti pot or Saline spray before bedtime to flush out any mucus, bacteria, or debris from your sinuses—this may make it easier for you to breathe at night.
8. Restore healthy bacteria in your mouth with oral probiotics
The mouth naturally has good and bad bacteria. Bad breath can occur when there is a lack of Streptococcus salivarius K12 bacteria in your mouth.
Streptococcus salivarius K12 and Streptococcus salivarius M18 are both strains of good bacteria that have been shown to reduce bad breath by crowding out harmful species like S. mutans (the leading cause of cavities).
And now there are tablets and lozenges available that contain these strains specifically for that purpose! You can find them at your local drugstore or online retailer (just make sure they’re labeled “BLIS M18” or “BLIS K12“).
Take one tablet dissolved in your mouth slowly and completely before bedtime every day after brushing your teeth. This will help you cultivate more beneficial bacteria in your mouth, which may reduce halitosis over time.
9. Check your tonsils for tonsil stones
Tonsil stones are small calcified formations that form on your tonsils, and they can be pretty gross. They are made of food particles, dead cells, and bacteria that have trapped on the tonsils.
First, look in the mirror and hold a light up to your throat. If you see white spots on your tonsils—that likely means you have tonsil stones!
You can go to the doctor and have them removed, or you can try to dislodge them by using a Q-tip yourself—push the stones forward toward the opening of your mouth (away from your throat), and they’ll pop out. If you want an extra helping hand, there are tonsil stone remover tools out there that might help you get the job done.
It’s important to note that putting too much pressure on your tonsils can cause them to bleed, so you should always be careful when trying to remove tonsil stones.
10. Check whether you have any digestive problems
Bad breath can be a sign that you have a digestive problem.
If you’re experiencing bad breath, it’s important to rule out any potential medical conditions that could be contributing to the problem. These include GERD (acid reflux), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and H. pylori infection.
Research has shown a possible connection between H. pylori infection and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, both of which may contribute to bad breath. If you experience gas, burping, and bloating, then SIBO may be to blame for your bad breath.
The beneficial bacteria found in yogurt, known as lactobacillus, may also help fight bad bacteria and improve your bad breath.
To find out whether digestive problems are contributing to your bad breath, talk to your doctor about the symptoms you’re experiencing. If a medical issue is at the root of it, they can offer treatment options that might help improve the condition.
The bottom line is that a combination of improved dental hygiene, regular trips to your dentist, and self-care such as the methods outlined above can go a long way towards reducing bad breath.
If home treatment fails to help or if your symptoms are worsening, consult with a doctor or dental professional.