Otara Dental
15 Carleton Dr #102 St. Albert AB T8N 7K9 (780) 460-0000

facebook-square twitter-square instagram chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down x phone location share chevron-thin-right calendar left-quote right-quote black-star-glasses-png eye book-appointment-maroon-icon-(1) types-of-services-white-icon-(1) location-white-icon next2 previous2 forward3 backward2
St. Albert, AB

(780) 460-0000

What’s Causing Your Bad Breath?

In short, bacteria is what is causing your bad breath. The bacteria in your mouth feed on the food that you eat. As the bacteria feed, they release smelly compounds that can cause bad breath.

While bacteria is the primary cause of bad breath, there are other factors that can make bad breath worse. Certain habits, health conditions, and medications can also contribute. So before you stock up on breath mints and gum, make sure you’re addressing the root cause.

Woman plugging her nose as her friend with bad breath talks

Causes of Bad Breath

Poor Dental Hygiene

The vast majority of the time, bad breath is simply caused by poor oral hygiene. Proper brushing and flossing can go a long way when it comes to fresh breath. Cleaning your tongue is also very important when trying to keep your breath fresh. 

A tongue cleaner or scraper can be purchased at your pharmacy or dental office. Do you still feel like you have bad breath? Talk to your dentist as there could be other factors described below that may contribute to bad breath.

Certain Foods

We’re all pretty familiar with “garlic breath” or “coffee breath”. It’s no secret that pungent foods like onion, garlic, and coffee can contribute to bad breath. These strong foods can linger in your mouth, leaving a distinct (and unpleasant) smell.

Smoking & Tobacco Products

Just like smoking can leave an odour on clothing, it can also leave an odour in your mouth. Smoking also increases your risk of gum disease, which can be another source of bad breath. Finally, smoking can inhibit your sense of smell, which could mean you have bad breath and not realize it. 

Dry Mouth

Saliva cleanses your mouth, which helps to remove bad breath causing bacteria. A lack of saliva while we sleep is what causes morning breath. Issues from not drinking enough water to chronic dry mouth can contribute to bad breath. 

Gum Disease

Gum disease is caused by the build-up of bacteria in the mouth, which can worsen bad breath. In fact, bad breath is one of the tell-tale signs of gum disease. In extreme cases, severe gum disease can also lead to infections in the mouth, another cause of bad breath. 

Infections in the Mouth or Nose

Infections in the mouth, nose, and throat can all lead to bad breath. Some examples include:

  • Sinus infection
  • Mouth sores
  • Surgical wounds 
  • Tooth decay
  • Tonsil stones

While not an infection, tonsil stones are an issue in the throat that can cause bad breath. 


Some medications can lead to bad breath, often by causing side effects like dry mouth. Classes of drugs to watch out for include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Sedatives
  • Amphetamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics
  • Decongestants
  • Anticholinergics
  • Certain antipsychotics

Some vitamin supplements can cause bad breath too, especially when taken in large doses.

Other Medical Conditions

Aside from medical conditions that affect the mouth, nose, and throat, there are other issues that can cause bad breath. 

  • Gastric reflux
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Snoring
  • Breathing through your mouth
Senior woman smiling and looking in the mirror while brushing her teeth

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

Oral care issues are the most common cause of bad breath. Make sure your oral care routine is the best it can be first, then look to other ways to freshen your breath.

Brushing Your Teeth

Most people only brush their teeth for 30 seconds, which is not long enough to clean your mouth properly. For the freshest breath, make sure you:

  • Brush twice a day
  • Brush for 2 full minutes
  • Brush all your teeth & your tongue


Brushing is a great start, but it doesn’t get rid of the food between your teeth (and this leftover food can cause bad breath). Make sure you floss once per day, in addition to brushing. 

Tongue Scrapers & Mouthwash

Brushing and flossing are the core of oral care, whereas tongue scrapers and mouthwash are the extracurriculars. Tongue scrapers are designed to get the most food particles possible off your tongue, and mouthwash can help give you that minty-fresh feel. 

Other Tips for Fresher Breath

  • Quit smoking. Quitting smoking or using other tobacco products eliminates odour and helps keep your mouth healthier overall.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dry mouth can worsen bad breath, plus drinking water can help remove the food particles that bacteria feed on.
  • Avoid certain foods. Smelly foods like onions and garlic can linger in your mouth and contribute to bad breath.
  • Change your toothbrush regularly. You should change your toothbrush every 3 months to prevent bacteria build-up and to make sure it’s not too worn out. 
  • Clean dental appliances regularly. Retainers, mouthguards, and dentures can harbour bacteria if not cleaned consistently.
  • Visit your dentist every 6 months. Your dentist will be able to spot any underlying causes of bad breath, like gum disease. 

If your bad breath persists, even with proper dental hygiene, it’s time to speak with your dentist. There could be an underlying cause for your bad breath, which your dentist will be able to help identify. Your dentist can also help recommend the right toothpaste or mouthwash for you.

Written by Dr. Sherry Dick

Dr. Sherry Dick graduated with distinction from the University of Saskatchewan Dental College in 1988. In 1992 she graduated from the first American accredited cosmetic dentistry program at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Dick worked in private practices in Saskatchewan and Edmonton before starting her first St. Albert Dental practice in 1997. Dr. Sherry Dick has employed many of the technologies that have emerged since then such as Invisalign, tooth whitening, computer-generated Cerec crowns, digital x-rays, intraoral cameras, Botox™, The Wand for comfortable injections, and Velscope oral cancer screenings.

Location / Hours

Located Northeast of Servus Credit Union Place in Campbell Business Park

Otara Dental

15 Carleton Dr #102
St. Albert AB, T8N 7K9

Contact Information

  • Monday: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 8:00AM - 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 8:00AM - 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Friday: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed

Your Dental Education

  • Are charcoal based toothpastes and products safe?
  • Learn More
  • Are You Making These 10 Teeth Brushing Mistakes?
  • Learn More
  • Dentists May Be the First to Spot Health Conditions
  • Learn More
facebook twitter linkedin2 google-plus instagram pinterest youtube phone link location calendar envelope share2