Post-Nasal Drip and Bad Breath: Causes and Cures(Explained)

The throat and nose have glands that constantly produce mucus and this amounts to approximately two quarts per day in the average adult.

Mucus is a necessary substance because it works to clean and moisten the nasal membranes, it clears and traps any foreign matter you breathe in, it humidifies the air and it helps to fight infection. Under normal circumstances, you unconsciously swallow this mucus, but there are times when you can feel it dripping or accumulating in your throat and this is when it is referred to as a post-nasal drip.

Post-Nasal Drip and Bad Breath Explained

Post-nasal drip and bad breath often go hand-in-hand. The secretions associated with this condition act as a reservoir for bacteria and it provides the bacteria something adequate to feed on.

This allows the bacteria to grow and thrive. The secretions drip into the back of your throat, sit there and allow the bacteria to sit, live and cause a foul odor. In most cases, the thicker the mucus, the more bacteria that is present to cause the bad breath, but those who experience thinner mucus secretions can also have bad breath as a result.

If you have post-nasal drip, you want to avoid dairy products because this can cause your mucus secretions to be thicker and better able to harbor bacteria. They can also exacerbate congestion and the post-nasal drip as a whole.

The mucus is able to create a film on your tongue that is yellow or white in color and further cause your breath to worsen.

If you feel that you have to often clear your throat or that there is something stuck in your throat, you should be evaluated for a post-nasal drip. You also want to know the thickness of your secretions, so that you can use the proper bad breath remedies.

Causes of Abnormal Mucus Secretions

The secretions associated with post-nasal drip might be thin or thick and there are different causes for each. The most common causes can be taken care of at home using the right oral hygiene products and at-home treatments.

Thinning secretions tend to harbor less bacteria than thicker ones, but bad breath can still be a problem. When secretions are thinned, this is often due to the following:

  • Common cold and flu
  • Cold temperatures
  • Certain spices and foods
  • Hormonal changes
  • Allergies
  • Bright lights
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications, such as those for high blood pressure and birth control
  • Structural abnormalities, such as an irregular or deviated septum

In these cases, you want to do something that makes it easier to breathe and something with a strong mint flavor can do the trick. The only exception would be the structural abnormalities which will require that you see your doctor. One product that can help you to breathe easier and freshen your breath is Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield Mouthwash. This mouthwash comes in wintermint, peppermint and spearmint flavors and helps to freshen your breath, as well as:

  • Keeps your breath fresh for up to 12 hours
  • Protects your gums and teeth against decay and disease
  • Does not contain alcohol so it will not contribute to dry mouth or cause a burning sensation
  • Reduces plaque
  • Kills 99% of the germs that can cause dental problems

The thicker your secretions, the worse your breath, so you want to make sure to have an accurate diagnosis. When your secretions are thicker, this can result from the following:

  • Dryness due to heated buildings and homes
  • Allergies
  • Nose of sinus infections
  • Bacterial sinus infection

Dry mouth is a common problem when your mucus secretions are thicker and dry mouth is a common cause of bad breath. This is because you are not producing enough saliva to keep your mouth clean. One of the best oral hygiene products for dry mouth is Biotene PBF Plaque Dissolving Mouthwash. Some features of this mouthwash include:

  • It does not contain alcohol
  • It works to cure dry mouth and prevent future recurrence
  • It balances the oral environment due to containing a specific enzyme protein
  • It keeps your breath fresh for 12 hours
  • Reduces the risk of tooth decay and gum disease

Exploring the Treatments of Post-Nasal Drip

If you have a post-nasal drip, the first thing you need to do is determine the underlying cause. This warrants a trip to your healthcare provider so that you can get an accurate diagnosis. Once you have a diagnosis, the cause can be treated to alleviate your problem. There are a number of treatment options available and your healthcare provider will discuss the underlying cause with you and the treatments that will be effective. The sooner you are able to get your post-nasal drip under control, the sooner you can have better breath and more comfort.

The following are common treatments for the most common causes of post-nasal drip:

  • Allergies: Your healthcare provider will determine your allergies and recommend an allergy medication. You should also do everything possible to avoid your allergy.
  • Bacterial or sinus infection: If you have a bacterial or a sinus infection, you will need an antibiotic. A simple blood test can tell you if either of these problems are present. Make sure to take the full course of antibiotics to ensure that you are cured.
  • Structural abnormalities: You may require surgery to correct the abnormality and fix your post-nasal drip.
  • Dry mouth: Your healthcare provider will recommend products and remedies that stimulate saliva production to keep your mouth moist.
  • Cold or flu: These are viral illnesses and typically just need to run their course as you treat the symptoms as you recover.
  • Medications: Your doctor can adjust your dose or make a medication change.
  • Hormonal changes or pregnancy: If there is a hormonal imbalance, a simple blood test will reveal this and there are medications to put the hormones back in balance.

Using the Right Products to Freshen Your Breath

Getting your post-nasal drip under control will go a long way to freshen your breath, but you also want to use products and remedies that will directly work to improve your breath and oral health. Of course, your choice of dental hygiene products is going to be one of the most important decisions that you make. After this, there are a few other things you can do and use to help improve your breath and your overall dental health. These products and remedies will ensure that your breath is immediately fresher and that it stays this way long-term.

When you are looking at toothpaste options, you want a toothpaste that provides a total and protective clean. One popular option, especially when trying to alleviate bad breath associated with post-nasal drip is ​TheraBreath Dentist Recommended Fresh Breath Dry Mouth Toothpaste.​ This toothpaste is especially helpful for bad breath that is associated with dry mouth, a common problem with thick post-nasal drip secretions. Some features of this toothpaste include:

  • Contains aloe to soothe the oral cavity and alleviate dry mouth
  • Does not contain any artificial colors, flavors or detergents
  • Dentists recommend this toothpaste for dry mouth and bad breath
  • The formula works to fight against tartar and cavities
  • Instantly stops bad breath

While general floss is effective, using a Waterpik to get between your teeth is an even better option. One of the most popular options is the Waterpik Ultra Water Flosser. It removes debris, plaque and bacteria so that they are not allowed to sit and contribute to bad breath.

This product can also add a little extra moisture to your mouth to help combat dry mouth. Features of this Waterpik include:

  • Operates at 10 to 90 PSI
  • Provides a 93 percent better clean compared to traditional floss
  • Provides 1,200 pulses per minute
  • Can dislodge debris and bacteria that are below the gum line and deep between your teeth

Since a post-nasal drip can make your mouth dry, you want to find a mouthwash that is free from alcohol so that it will not further cause dryness. Once popular option that does not contain alcohol or other chemicals is Listerine Zero Mouthwash.

Using it two to three times daily will help to ensure that the causative factors of your bad breath are neutralized and washed away. Use this product after brushing and flossing to get rid of any leftover bacteria and debris for a fresher and cleaner mouth. Features of this mouthwash include:

    It is not practical to carry your whole dental hygiene routine around with you, but there are plenty of times when you need to freshen your breath on the go. Carry a breath spray with you that will easily fit into your pocket or purse, such as New Cool Mint Listerine Pocket Mist. Some features of this product include:

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