Gina Liggio Maestri, DDS

Dental Blog

What Really Causes Bad Breath?

Hannah Johnson - Thursday, April 25, 2019


What is oral malodor?

Oral malodor, also known as halitosis or more informally known as bad breath, is very common in adults. As we all know, bad breath is treatable and can be prevented by cutting out certain foods and drinks; however, what we do not know is that bad breath can signify deeper oral health or serious medical issue.

The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. It is important for you to not only clean your teeth but also your whole mouth. Food particles can easily get trapped in between your teeth, which creates plaque, and on the surface of your tongue and tonsils. Just like how old food that has been sitting in your refrigerator can start to stink, old food left in your mouth from poor cleaning will also start to stink-causing bad breath. Not only will leftover food particles cause bad breath, it will also cause oral health conditions such as cavities and gum disease. Keeping a consistent oral care routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouth wash is the best defense against bad breath.



Some other causes of bad breath are:

Flavorful food and drink such as onions, garlic, vegetables, and spices are one of the most common causes for bad breath. The leftover food particles from those kinds of food can enter your bloodstream and get carried to the lungs. Once the food particles are in your lungs, each time you exhale the odor from the food will affect the odor of your breath. Not only will your breath stink, but once the food’s odor is in your bloodstream, the odor will also be released through your body’s pores causing body odor.

Another common cause of bad breath is coffee. Due to its strong, intense flavor and high levels of caffeine, coffee also has a direct effect on saliva production. After a strong cup of joe, the caffeine tends to hinder saliva production and less saliva means an increase in odor-causing bacteria. It’s undeniable that we all need a cup of coffee or two, or three, to get us through the day, so carry some mouth wash and drink some water after your coffee to help spark some saliva production.

Some obvious causes of bad breath are alcohol and smoking. Like coffee, an excess of alcohol consumption can result in a decrease in saliva production. As everyone may know, any type of tobacco products causes bad breath and can lead to more serious oral health issues. The damaging effects of tobacco products, such as damaged gum tissue, gum disease, and cancer, are irreversible.

Uncommon and overlooked causes of bad breath are certain diets and medication. Sugar tends to be the culprit when taking a closer look into what may be causing bad breath. High sugar diets allow sugar to interact with the existing bacteria in your mouth causing sweet flavors into bitter smells. High-protein or low-carb diets is another diet that contributes to bad breath. Not enough carbs and too much protein can affect your body’s metabolism which can lead to bad breath. A common side effect of almost all prescription medicine is dry mouth. Dry mouth means less saliva production which means bad breath. Odor-causing bacteria that lives in your mouth thrives in a dry mouth environment.

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Antiseptic mouthwash
  • Brush teeth after meals
  • Brush your tongue
  • Replace your toothbrush every two to three months
  • Floss regularly
  • Regular dental check-ups
  • Keep mouth moist by drinking water, sugarless gum, or sugar-free hard candy
  • Avoid bad smelling foods
  • Natural remedies—chew on mint or parsley





What Changes During Pregnancy?

Hannah Johnson - Sunday, April 14, 2019


We know what you’re thinking when the dentist office calls about your next appointment.."oh, great, something else I need to worry about!" But when you're pregnant, visiting your dentist regularly is just as important as your prenatal checkups. There is direct correlation between your oral health and your baby’s health. Your dentist will be able to tell you what changes to expect during your pregnancy and what to look for just in case a problem was to develop. Once you know you're pregnant, it's good to inform your dentist at your next appointment. Most likely your dentist will opt out of giving you x-rays and just wait until your next appointment or once you've delivered your baby. 

Just like the rest of your body during pregnancy, your teeth will also undergo a change. Due to increased hormone levels, your mouth is susceptible to bacteria and plaque which can result in gum tenderness. This can put you at greater risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

Be on the lookout for these issues that could arise during pregnancy:


  • Plaque buildup is common during pregnancy, but brushing and flossing regularly can help fight this. An abundance of plaque can lead to tooth decay and gingivitis. Ask your dentist about and antimicrobial mouthwash that will help your fight against plaque.
  • Gum inflammation commonly occurs during your second trimester. You may experience swollen and tender gums with minimal bleeding while brushing and flossing.
  • Non-cancerous pregnancy tumors can develop around your gums during your second trimester. These growths are believed to be linked to excess plaque. It is normal for these growths to bleed and will usually disappear after your baby is born.
  • Although this is not a direct cause of pregnancy, untreated gingivitis can result in periodontal disease. This disease is caused from infections around your teeth, gums, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. If you have noticed that your gums are bleeding more than normal after you brush or floss, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

To make sure your hygiene stays in tip-top shape, keep these tips in mind:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day as normal with fluoride toothpaste. If your gums are too swollen and tender, try switching to a softer bristle toothbrush and brush as gently as possible. Focus more on the motion of your toothbrush, rather than the pressure you apply to your toothbrush.
  • Floss gently once a day.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and check-ups.
  • Ask your dentist about antimicrobial mouth wash. This will help your fight against plaque buildup.
  • If you are experiencing morning sickness, rinse your mouth out with a teaspoon of baking soda and water. This will help keep stomach acids from attacking your teeth which will cause decay.
  • Eating a diet that consists of B12 and vitamin C will help keep gums healthy.

Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy will not only help your teeth, but it will also help your baby’s developing teeth. These tips will help with that!

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods that are high in B12 and vitamin C-salmon, leafy greens, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, beef, turkey, legumes, whole grains
  • Cravings can be tough, but try to limit yourself to foods and drinks high in sugar.
  • Drink plenty of water!

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Gina Liggio Maestri, DDS Family Dentistry


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