Ordinary Mouthwash Is Bad For Bad Breath; Good Tips For Good Breath

Your mouthwash can be doing more harm than good and can actually cause bad breath.

The first thing to do about bad breath is know its cause. The last thing you want to do for bad breath is treat it with mouthwash. Most commercial brands have either chemicals or alcohol which primarily target to kill bacteria. Like I discussed in The Truthpaste of Toothpaste, unfortunately these aggressive ingredients not only kill the bad bacteria, they kill the good, and the good bacteria is needed for decay prevention, healthy gums, and….yes, good breath!! Remember, if you have a clean mouth from good habits, good eating, and good dental home-care, you do not need to kill bacteria.

Furthermore, alcohol in mouthwash is extremely drying for the mouth, which in itself will cause bad breath defeating your intent. The lack of saliva  after sleeping is why people experience “Morning breath,” as saliva is needed to maintain a healthy PH and encourage healthy bacteria. Like many commercial toothpastes, commercial mouthwash contains chemicals which give you a burning sensation because the mouthwash is burning your tissue by irritating it. Mouthwash is a true waste of your money and will only mask bad breath odor for a short duration, while never ameliorating the cause.

The odor from your bad breath could be a clue toward discovering the cause. I have had many patients ask me if I think they have bad breath, and this is a really good place for you to start. If you haven’t been in the dental care system for a while, ask a loved one whom you know will be honest with you. Generally, though, you have a pretty good idea on your own if you have a taste in your mouth;  your breath will usually smell the way your mouth tastes.

Know What’s Causing Your Chronic Bad Breath:

Dental neglect or poor oral hygiene is an obvious cause of bad breath which varies depending on the degree of periodontal disease. Food debris can actually cause fermentation in your mouth which would give it a sour taste or rotten egg odor. If someone has gum disease their breath can smell metallic or bloody on top of the rotten egg odor.

Ketoacidosis can come from diabetes when experiencing low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. It can also come from dieting or fasting or eating disorders. I have experienced some patients in Santa Fe who are always on some kind of “Detox,” or fast and I can always tell from their fruity mouth odor. A high protein diet such as Paleo can cause the release of ketones which will temporarily cause a fruity or an acetone odor from “Keto breath.” However, long term high protein diets can cause a volatile sulfur byproduct from anaerobic (oxygen deprived) bacteria which digests proteins. The odor from volatile sulfur is heavier than “Fruity,” which is more of a rotten egg smell and can be very offensive.

Sinusitis or Nasal Problems can cause bad breath due to becoming more acidic and can lead to dry mouth. It’s very important to tongue scrape with nasal issues as your tongue can become coated with the acidic thriving bacteria causing bad breath with a metallic odor.

Xerostomia is a dry mouth condition which can be caused by medications or radiation treatments, aging, chronic dehydration, chronic stress and anxiety, and so many other conditions. Saliva is crucial to a balanced and healthy mouth and without it, taste buds are dulled while experiencing both a metallic taste and odor.

Acid Reflux, once again, will cause your oral cavity to be too acidic, giving off a metallic or sour taste and odor.

Smoking deprives your mouth of oxygen which causes acidic bacteria growth, which causes periodontal disease. Besides your breath smelling like tobacco, smoking causes dry mouth which leaves you with bad breath and exacerbates gum disease.

Gut Bacteria Imbalance can commonly come from overgrown H.Pylori in the small-intestine which causes digestion problems making the oral cavity too acidic where you would have a rotten egg odor.

The above are only samples of conditions which can cause bad breath, so find out if your bad breath is caused by a medical condition with the help of your health-care provider.

Good Tips for Good Breath

Clean your teeth with brushing and flossing or picking. Don’t rush your routine, take your time, the better you remove plaque from your teeth, the better your breath will be.

Scrape your tongue clean. It’s very important you reach the scraper as far back as you can go (without gagging) as the anaerobic bacteria hides out in the back where there’s less oxygen, especially the volatile sulfur producing bacteria.

Click image to order Dr. Tung’s tongue cleaner

Test your mouth with PH strips to see if its acidic. If you’re too acidic you can use baking soda rinses after you eat. All you need is warm water and about a teaspoon of baking soda to rinse and gargle with. I would even sprinkle baking soda on your favorite natural toothpaste to brush with.

Baking soda can help neutralize volatile sulfur and give you better breath while encouraging healthy bacteria.

Hydrate by drinking lots of water and keep your mouth moist. At night discourage mouth breathing, see Mouth Breathing During Cold Winter Nights. During the day natural xylitol candies and gums can help keep your mouth moist because it leaves behind a slippery film on your teeth and oral cavity.

Eat well and don’t skip meals in order to prevent low blood sugar. Healthy whole foods discourage bad bacteria to grow in the mouth while fibrous foods help prevent the volatile sulfur.

If Mouthwash feels good, then, by all means, use it, but be selective by using mouthwash with ingredients you can recognize and are non-invasive. I am impressed with Dr. H & Co. rinses because of their high-quality ingredients and emphasis on whole oral health. I highly recommend Dr. H & Co. Refresh for better breath. They also make a rinse Heal concentrated more on gum health.

I love all the ingrediants in this rinse for gum health, especially the aloe vera which is alkeline and can help neutralize your flora. Click on image to order.

Ideally, barring any medical issues, if you follow the above dental tips, your mouth should feel pretty clean and odor free.


*This blog contains affiliate links for products Ask My Hygienist carefully recommends based on professional experience or personal use. These suggestions are to assist you in your quest for better oral health, and in turn, you're assisting our blog with the small commission we receive from your purchase.



Author: Cari

Cari has been a practicing dental hygienist for over 30 years. She received her degree with honors and was selected for a rare internship at Eastman Dental School, Rochester, NY. She then went on to receive a BS in Social Work from Nazareth College, cum laude. She has practiced in a variety of offices in Santa Fe for almost 25 years, with dental hygiene experience that has spanned from public health to holistic private practice, to specializing in dental phobic patients. Her commitment to research with a life-long desire to learn is combined with her genuine drive to provide patients with a whole health knowledge base. Cari also brings her experience as a published writer to her role as an oral health blogger. She has written blogs and web pages for Beyond Borders Dental in her role as Director of Dental Relations and Education.

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