What Causes Bad Breath? (It Could Be Gum Disease)

By Dr. James Forester | Jan 22, 2022 | Gum/Periodontal Disease
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Like it or not, bad breath happens to all of us. For some people it’s just a temporary issue (such as immediately after drinking coffee or eating spicy food), but for others it’s a real battle they face each and every day (and have to take steps to combat the issue).

In this article, we’re going to share with you a few of the common causes of bad breath (including the signs and symptoms of gum disease), as well as a few possible treatment options.


Your mouth is the perfect natural breeding ground for many types of bacteria, and when tiny food particles are left in the crevices between your teeth and gums, the result can be a foul-smelling odor.

Gum disease

Did you know that as many as half of American adults have some form of gum disease (source)?

Here are a few facts you should know regarding gum disease:

  • Gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) impacts both your gums and the surrounding bone (which supports your teeth). As a result, gum disease can actually lead to tooth loss.
  • There is a correlation between individuals with periodontal disease and other chronic inflammatory diseases including diabetes and heart disease. The mouth is truly the gateway to the rest of the body. Keeping it clean, healthy, and disease free is essential to your overall health and wellness.
  • It’s estimated that 70.1% of adults ages 65 and older have some form of mild to moderate periodontal disease.
  • Periodontal disease is significantly higher in men (56.4%) vs. women (38.4%), and some researchers believe that the health concerns linked to periodontal disease may drive public health policy.

NOTE: Dr. Forester of Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek offers gum disease treatment for patients who need it.

So if you have bleeding/red/swollen gums, chronic bad breath, receding gums and/or sensitive gums, it’s best to get evaluated for gum disease by our dentist.

If gum disease is not caught early on, the condition may progress to periodontal disease. That means you’ll have more symptoms and oftentimes more painful symptoms.

It is better to be safe than sorry. Get checked today for periodontal disease and gum disease. Dr. Forester at Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek can do that for you.


While your parents or grandparents could claim they “didn’t know” the harmful effects of smoking, there is a myriad of information available in the 21st century that proves nothing good comes from smoking.

Not only can smoking lead to serious health issues (lung cancer, COPD, and more), it can also cause your teeth and gums to become dark, stained, and eventually decay.

Nothing good comes from smoking, so just don’t do it. If you’re already a smoker, we know how hard it can be to break the habit (it is an addiction after all).

Dry mouth

While you may think of saliva as something dirty or unsanitary, your own saliva is actually “nature’s mouthwash,” as it works around the clock 24/7 to assist in keeping your mouth clean.

If you feel as if your mouth is always dry (that “cotton mouth” feeling), then you may not be making the amount of saliva your mouth needs to assist in the cleansing process. Try drinking more water or chewing sugar-free gum (xylitol is a common sugar substitute), which can increase your saliva production.

What Can You Do to Get Rid of Bad Breath (Halitosis)?

Develop a Winning Oral Hygiene Routine

A healthy, daily oral hygiene routine should become a ritual; it’s that important for your overall health. Here are a few things you should do on a daily basis:
Brush your teeth twice daily (gently) for two minutes. You don’t want to brush too aggressively as this can lead to enamel abrasion. In addition, you want to make sure that you use a toothpaste that is not too abrasive staying below 70 on the RDA chart is ideal.

In addition to brushing twice daily, you’ll also want to floss every day and possibly even use a water flosser and a tongue scraper to remove some of the really stubborn bacteria from those tough-to-reach places.

A good rule of thumb is to always go to bed with your mouth clean and always leave the house with your mouth clean!

Limit Your Sugar Intake

Limiting your sugar intake is wise as the bacteria from sugary and acidic foods are perfect grounds for bacteria to grow and thrive. While a productive oral hygiene routine can take care of some of this, not letting it pass your teeth and gums in the first place is a great preventative measure.

There are also other health benefits to limiting sugar intake that can lower your blood pressure, help battle dementia, and even help you lose weight.

The best part? Once you give up sugar (or dramatically cut it from your diet), you’ll likely feel better!

Stop Smoking

We covered this earlier, but the bottom line is that if you’re smoking, nothing good is going to come of it. We know quitting may be the toughest thing you’ve ever tried to do in your life, but stay strong and seek out the help of a support group to help you along your journey.

Use Mouthwash Properly

While mouthwash should never replace brushing and flossing, it is a handy addition to any oral hygiene routine, when done correctly. Make sure the mouthwash is alcohol free and does not have an acidic pH.

Here is the best way to use mouthwash:

  • Use it when you need to freshen your breath. It’s not uncommon for many people to keep a small bottle of mouthwash in their purse, car, etc. as it can be that quick breath freshener you need.

  • Rinse for 30 seconds to one minute, and dilute if necessary. Some mouthwashes are highly concentrated. While it’s normal to feel a little bit of a tingling feeling while using mouthwash, you shouldn’t feel any real pain or discomfort. If you do, then you’re either using too much and/or not diluting, or there is an underlying issue (such as tooth sensitivity or gum issues) that need to be addressed.

Drink More Water

Hydration is good for the body…mouth included. As we discussed earlier, dry mouth can lead to bacteria growth and bad breath, so by drinking more water and keeping yourself hydrated, you’re really helping your mouth fight bacteria.

Visit Our Dentist Who Focuses on Integrative Dentistry

Taking care of your oral health should be a lot like changing your oil, keeping a check on your tires, etc. If you keep an eye on these things and maintain them, your vehicle should stay in good shape.

It’s the same with your mouth. At Lifetime Smiles, we take an integrative, preventative approach to dentistry. Our goal isn’t to fix your dental issues as much as it is to prevent them from becoming significant issues in the first place.

If you’re looking for a dentist in the Johns Creek area who can not only help you in your battle with bad breath and gum disease, but can also assist you in forming healthy habits and offer preventative dental maintenance, give our office a call today!

Dr. Forester has been practicing dentistry in Johns Creek since 1997 and looks forward to meeting you and your family.