Post-Nasal Drip and Bad Breath – How They Relate?

Bad breath makes us feel embracing. Because of the bad smelling oral cavity, we often hesitate to open the mouth when everyone is around. Bad breath does not necessarily come only because of the poor oral health.

Many times, there could be other issues, such as post-nasal drip, dry mouth, smoking, etc., result in bad breath. Post nasal drip is one such cause commonly noticed in case of bad breath. The thick mucus drooling from the nose on the back of your throat is the post nasal drip.


Bacteria survive and grow rapidly when there is excess mucus production. In turn, they produce foul smell which is often terms as bad breath.

If you think, mints are the solution for your bad breath, then you are wrong. Mints can get you fresh breath, but they do not act on the cause of bad breath.

What is post-nasal drip?

Post nasal drip is the commonly noticed condition. It is the smelly mucus that seems to drip down on your throat. You also must have experienced post nasal drip.

Usually, the mucus gland in nose or throat produces mucus. Mucus is the wet, thick and sticky substance. It also –

  • Fights against the infection.
  • Moistens the nasal member.
  • Filters out the foreign substance.

Your body is designed to clear the excess mucus from the nasal passage. Mucus mixed with saliva drools down on the back of your throat, and you swallow it without even noticing.

But in some infections condition, your glands produce the excess of thick mucus that gets build up on the back of your throat.

You can even notice the mucus rolling down from the nasal passage on the throat and accumulation of mucus on your throat in post nasal drip.

Common symptoms noticed in post nasal drip include –

  • Feeling that you need to regularly clear your throat or swallow.
  • Change in the voice.
  • A cough. (1)
  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Bad breath.
  • A sore throat.

Causes of post nasal drip

The production of an excess of mucus noted in following conditions.

  • Allergic reaction due to dust, pollens, food, etc.
  • Bacterial infection.
  • Cold Fever.
  • Sinusitis.
  • Viral infection causing flu.
  • Breathing dry air.
  • Having spicy food.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Weather changes.
  • Medication such as birth control prescription.

Sometimes, production of excessive mucus isn’t the cause of post nasal drip. But, the throat’s inability to clear the mucus may also lead to post nasal drip. Failure of mucus drainage occur in following cases –

  • Deviated nasal septum.
  • Swallowing problem.
  • Gastric reflux.

Most commonly, infected sinus is responsible for bad breath. In such cases, addressing sinus issues help to eliminate bad breath. Also, use of neti pot, nasal irrigation or having tea works best for a sinus infection.

How post nasal drip causes bad breath?

Excessive mucus production provides a favorable environment for bacterial growth. Bacteria rapidly gets multiply and thrive on the mucus, producing a foul odor.

When the exhaled air comes in contact with this foul smelling mucus, i.e. post nasal drip, it carries the smell with it and produces bad breath.

Other causes bad breath

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is caused by various other causes such as –

  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • Smoking.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Certain medications such as oral contraceptives.
  • Other health issues such as stomach illness.
  • Food such as onion or garlic.

What can you do to prevent bad breath?

Follow the basic oral hygiene regimen to prevent the bad breath.

1. Brush teeth properly and regularly

Plaque accumulated on the tooth surface act as food for bacteria. Bacteria thrive on the plaque and causes various dental illnesses including, bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, periodontal infection, etc. (2)

Brushing helps to dislodge the plaque and make the tooth surface clean. That is why you should brush teeth twice in a day for adequate time to get fresh breath and clean teeth.

2. Floss daily

Food often gets lodged between the teeth and brushing cannot clean the area between the two teeth. The stuck food particles on degradation produce a foul smell.

Flossing helps to remove these food particles and plaque in between the teeth. Hence, you must floss daily to avoid the bad breath.

3. Use mouth rinse

Mouthwash helps to clean your oral cavity by dislodging the food particles and plaque. It freshens your breath after every rinse.

Moreover, fluoride containing mouthwash fight against cavity and helps to keep your mouth cavity free. Hence, now onwards you will not have unpleasant breath produced due to the decayed tooth. (3)

4. Chew sugar-free gums

Decayed tooth surface often acts as the home for bacteria, plaque, and food lodgement and leads to unpleasant breath. Therefore, it is essential to prevent the teeth from decay to get a healthy oral cavity.

Chewing sugar-free gums helps you to keep your tooth surface clean and caries free. Also, gum chewing stimulates your salivary gland and increases the secretion of saliva.

Plenty amount of saliva in mouth avoids condition such as dry mouth and bad breath (4). The flavoring agent added in gums also helps to freshen your breath.

5. Avoid smoking

Smoking is responsible for the periodontal infection which produces a bad smell in the mouth. If you are a chronic smoker, then you will notice that bad breath goes away immediately after quitting smoking.

6. Clean your tongue daily

Tongue surface is a most desirable area for bacteria to grow and multiply. Bacteria often form the coating on the tongue and induces tongue diseases.

If you fail to clean your tongue daily, the colonies of bacteria will keep increasing in number and will give you the bad breath.

7. Have a healthy diet

Diet rich in nutritional value keeps you healthy. The fibrous and sugar-free food is good for your oral health. Make fruits and vegetables a part of your daily diet.

Also, reduce the consumption of food such as onion, ginger, etc. that contribute to bad breath.

8. Drink plenty of fluids

The bacteria causing gum disease or plaque formation are also responsible for bad breath. Having a good amount of water or other sugar-free liquid helps to wash out the bacteria. They will have less time to stick to the tooth surface.

9. Visit a dentist regularly

If you have lingering bad breath, then you must visit the dentist. Bad breath often associated with dental issues or other health issues. It is essential to treat the cause of bad breath than covering the bad breath by mints or gums.

You should always see the dentist for a regular checkup and professional cleaning of the tooth. Also, regular visits to the dentist help to keep your oral cavity healthy.


Also read: Benefits of Using the Neti Pot for Nasal Irrigation

Final words

When your post nasal drip disappears, your bad breath will disappear. Fortunately, all the causes of bad breath including post nasal drip are highly treatable.

However, along with treating the underlying cause of bad breath, the practice of good oral hygiene measures is essential.


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