Tips and formulas from the leading experts

By Dr. Harold Katz, Internationally Recognized Bad Breath & Dry Mouth Expert, Founder California Breath Clinics, Graduate Dentistry and Bacteriology (UCLA).

Bad breath is much more than just a socially unacceptable problem. It’s a sign that your mouth is out of balance. Nearly all cases of bad breath develop in the mouth and throat (beneath the surface of your tongue and all the way into the tonsil area – if you still have them). The myth that bad breath originates in the digestive system unfortunately still lingers and should finally be put to rest.

What you smell in bad breath are Volatile Sulfur Compounds produced by anaerobic Sulphur producing bacteria that breed in these areas. Their goal is to break down proteins in foods or in oral tissue as it breaks down. As part of this natural process, chemical by- products (bacterial poop), is excreted by the bugs and that’s what you smell: Hydrogen Sulfide (the rotten egg smell) for example is a prime ingredient in bad breath and so are other chemicals such as Cadaverine and Putrescine (the smells of death and rotting flesh). Everyone on the face of the earth has this process taking place in their mouths day in and day out. But, why do some people have bad breath, while others have sweet smelling baby’s breath?

Nature protects us from bad breath by producing saliva. That’s why drooling babies never have bad breath; saliva contains important minerals as well as oxygenating compounds which are the natural enemy of the anaerobic bad breath producing bacteria. Saliva is not only a natural breath freshener it also helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. And, that’s why a dry mouth is one of the most triggers to bad breath – and a moist mouth prevents bad breath. It also explains why morning breath is so potent. As one sleeps for 7-8 hours, the brain recognizes that you are no longer eating, so saliva production drops dramatically. Without oxygen-rich saliva to fend off the anaerobic bacteria, the bugs go wild and start to produce copious amounts of Volatile Sulfur Compounds. So, as you awake, out comes the dragon breath that you’ve been producing all night long.


We all know that onions, garlic, and curry produce foul odour. That’s because they already contain smelly Sulphur compounds as part of their natural makeup. So, essentially, you give yourself bad breath as you eat them. One of the hidden bad breath producing foods are dairy foods. Since the bacteria use proteins as a fuel for odours, protein-rich dairy foods are particularly potent in producing bad breath.

Sugar feeds all types of bacteria, including bad breath bacteria as well as decay producing and gum disease bacteria. So-called “breath” mints that contain sugar should be avoided as should most sugar laden products. An excellent substitute found in many clinical oral health formulas is Xylitol, naturally derived from the bark of the white birch tree. It’s very safe for diabetics and studies show that it helps to prevent tooth decay.

Alcohol is not your friend when it comes to oral health. Chemically categorized as a drying agent, alcohol, found in many mouthwash and toothpaste formulations, creates a dry mouth, the exact environment you want to avoid! Furthermore, alcohol provides no health benefit, since the concentrations used in oral products is not high enough to kill germs, but definitely sufficient to suck up available saliva. In fact, there is a higher concentration of alcohol in leading mouthwash formulas than in an entire six-pack of beer! – and beer won’t freshen your breath either – I’ve done that research, too. Therefore, look for mouthwash formulas that DO NOT contain alcohol, but that DO contain oxygen compounds, which mimic healthy saliva.

If one needs to choose between coffee and tea – always go tea. Tea is pH neutral, whereas coffee is acidic, which can stimulate the bacteria to create bad breath, as well as sour, bitter tastes.


Nearly 75% of prescription medications have dry mouth as a side effect. This includes very popular meds such as high blood pressure pills, antidepressants, and antihistamines. A complete list can be found in my book, The Bad Breath Bible. It is very important that if one takes these medications, they also drink plenty of water throughout the day to help replenish saliva.

Although, technically it is not a medication, a common ingredient still found in most toothpaste formulas is a drying agent – sodium lauryl sulfate – or more commonly known as soap. It’s the same ingredient used in common shampoo, but it is used in toothpaste to create a false sense of activity by producing foam. It does not provide any health benefit, but on the other hand, has been linked to painful mouth sores (canker sores). It should be avoided in toothpaste.

Another ingredient that is commonly used in oral care is chlorhexidine. Articles in the Daily Mail have pointed out this disinfectant may cause bacterial resistance, as well as stained teeth and alterations in taste. There are now several mouthwash formulas in the UK that are antibacterial, but without these negative side effects.

The top tips we give patients at our California Breath Clinics is great for fresh breath as well as overall oral health:

  1. Drink plenty of water – at least 48-64 ounces daily
  2. Brush at least twice daily with a soft nylon bristled brush – never medium or hard
  3. Use a clinically-proven oxygenating mouthwash and toothpaste, such as The Breath Company, which do not contain alcohol, artificial flavours, detergents, or artificial colours.
  4. In order to keep your mouth as moist as possible, use The Breath Company Dry Mouth Oral Rinse, which fights dry mouth three ways: Moisturizes, Naturally stimulates more saliva, and includes natural salivary enzymes to mimic health saliva.
  5. Floss, at least once per day – twice daily if you’re prone to getting food stuck between your teeth.
  6. On the go and throughout the day, use The Breath Company Dry Mouth Lozenges and Chewing Gum to keep your mouth moist and breath fresh.

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