9 Causes of Bad Breath and Why Hiding the Odor Isn’t Good Enough

I have a bad smell in my mouth. I brush daily but it still smells. I chew gum all day long and suck on mints, but I don’t want to get cavities from all the sugar. Any suggestions? Will teeth whitening help? – Thanks. Luca from San Antonio

Luca – Many factors can affect the way your breath smells. Although teeth whitening products can brighten your smile, they won’t help your breath smell fresh.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Several factors are reviewed below.

1. Bacteria

Bacteria in your mouth is the most common cause of bad breath. In addition to brushing your teeth daily, floss between them. Flossing removes food debris that promotes bacteria. If bacteria get stuck between your teeth, it will begin to smell bad. Some people benefit from a tongue cleaner to remove bacteria. Others gently brush their tongue.

2. Gum Disease

Infected gum tissue breeds bacteria. Gums can get inflamed and pus-filled and cause a foul odor on your breath.

3. Dry Mouth

Saliva cleanses your mouth. Lack of saliva production causes bacteria to breed and make your breath smell bad. Breathing through your mouth, instead of your nose, will also decrease saliva production.


When stomach acid flows up your esophagus, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs. The backup of regurgitated food can cause your breath to smell bad.

5. Liver Disease

Your liver removes toxins from your body. If your liver isn’t functioning properly, toxins can build up in your bloodstream and cause a sweet, musty odor on your breath.

6. Kidney Disease

Malfunctioning kidneys cause minerals to collect in your bloodstream. The result is often a metallic taste in your mouth and breath that smells like ammonia.

7. Extreme Low-Carb Diet

If you’re on an extremely low-carb diet, your body will burn fat, instead of sugar. Fat burning releases ketones in your body, including acetone, which can make your breath smell like nail polish.

8. Pneumonia

Phlegm from the bacterial or viral infection in your lung has a bad odor. As you cough it up, it will affect the smell of your breath.

9. Bronchitis

As you cough, foul-smelling mucus from your lungs will make your breath smell bad, too.

There are powerful products to help you treat bad breath, including BreathRx. But don’t neglect an appointment with your dentist or medical doctor to identify the cause of the problem. You might have an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated. The odor of your breath can be a lifesaving sign of something more serious. Don’t ignore it.

Plano, TX dentist Miranda Lacy sponsors this post.

What to Do If Root Canal Filler Material Falls Out of Your Tooth

In 2016, I had a root canal on an upper right molar tooth. I have only been to a dentist twice since that time and the last time was early last year. The cap fell off almost 2 months ago and there is a rod in my tooth that wiggles back and forth. Can I pull the post out? It’s uncomfortable when I chew, and I’m afraid it might come out when I’m eating. I don’t want to swallow it. Thanks. Clinton from Georgia


In addition to your lost dental crown, the root canal filling material is falling out. If your dental crown came off two months ago, you’re at risk for infection and needing another root canal treatment.

What Happens When Root Canal Filling Material Is Unprotected?

If you had root canal treatment on a tooth, problems with the tooth will increase if it isn’t sealed off and protected.

  • The material is exposed to oral fluids and saliva can loosen the filling
  • Your tooth can be infected again
  • You’ll need another root canal treatment
  • Your dentist will protect the tooth with a dental crown.

The metal crown in your tooth is likely a post that was used to fill your tooth. Although the post can last for years, if your crown if off, it won’t last. You shouldn’t remove it yourself. A dentist will examine your tooth to determine if root canal treatment needs to be repeated or if the tooth can simply be sealed and protected with a crown.

Do You Have Dental Anxiety?

Many patients who delay dental care have anxiety about dental visits. If you suffer from anxiety, Clinton, don’t let it prevent you from getting the care you need. Tell your dentist about your nervousness. Any dental procedure can be performed with sedation to help you relax and have a productive appointment. Depending on your level of anxiety, you can receive nitrous oxide or oral conscious sedation in pill form.

This post is sponsored by Miranda Lacy, DDS, a Plano, TX female dentist.