Bad Breath: Foods to avoid and foods to try

Some foods can give you bad breath! In many cases, this can be a related to poor oral health, habits like smoking, or an issue within the body. However, in patients who can rule out all the factors above, it could just be the things you’re eating. Below, we list the five most common culprits for food-related halitosis so you can be sure to take precautions – like remembering to bring mouthwash or a toothbrush to help keep your mouth feeling and smelling fresh.

Garlic and Onions

bad breath

These are possibly the most well known of the bad breath causing ingredients, and it is often warned to avoid. This is because they both contain sulfuric compounds that get absorbed into your bloodstream and then flow into your lungs or be released via your pores causing the smell to linger long after your meal. No wonder they say to stay away from garlic bread on a first date!

review trust dental care

Dairy Products

bad breath

A diet with an adequate amount of calcium is necessary for strong, healthy teeth and bones, but sometimes dairy can cause the naturally occurring bacteria in your tongue to feed on the amino acids in milk and cheeses, producing a smell in an odor that can be pungent and unpleasant.

Coffee and Alcohol

save 75% on dental treatment

bad breath

These liquid culprits can also affect the way your breath smells for a couple of reasons. For starters, these are drying agents, meaning that they inhibit the flow of saliva and thus create a dry mouth. Because saliva acts as a way to clean out the mouth and remove unwanted bacteria or food particles from between the teeth, a lack of it can create a perfect breeding place for harmful bacteria. Drinking water can help your mouth produce more saliva, which can contribute to counter this if you actually can’t live without your morning coffee.


bad breath

Who knew your breath could be affected by one of the least unsuspecting food items: condiments. Particularly horseradish. This is because horseradish sauce is derived from a plant that produces isothiocyanate, a natural chemical so odorous, even animals avoid it.


bad breath

This may come as no surprise, but tuna is a particularly smelly fish. It does make for a delicious lunchtime snack, but tuna, particularly of the canned variety, has a very noticeable smell. This is because of the oxidization that commonly occurs during the canning process. Acidic additions can increase that smell. Chewing sugar-free gum after a tuna melt sandwich will not only help freshen your breath but can also loosen lodged food remains and encourage saliva production.

What food can help me fight bad breath?

Good oral hygiene, of course, is still the best way to keep your breath sweet. But some kinds of food and drink can fight bad breath. Go ahead and grab one of these five choices to freshen your breath between meals.

Cheese and Yogurt

bad breathEven though some dairy products can give you bad breath, a piece of cheese after you’ve eaten can neutralize some of those dietary acids, which may be stuck on your teeth and giving you that bad breath odor. A serving of unsweetened yogurt can also help. A small Japanese study found that volunteers with halitosis who ate yogurt twice a day had reduced levels of hydrogen sulfide, a compound that can cause bad breath.

Dairy products are fortified with vitamin D. Research has shown that both vitamin D and calcium may benefit oral health.

Apples, Carrots, Celery and Other Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables

bad breath

Since it’s the soft and sticky foods that are most likely to be trapped on your teeth, causing bacteria build-up and bad odors, reach for a snack that’s neither. Apples, carrots, and celery all scrub your teeth as you eat, helping to strip away those leftover bits of raisin Danish.

Black Tea

bad breath

The polyphenols or compounds in black tea may help your breath in two ways: First, they prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause foul breath. Second, they decrease the bacteria’s production of stinky byproducts. Black tea has also been shown to help prevent tooth decay; so all in all, this steaming beverage makes for a good mouth freshener. One thing to beware: too much caffeine can dry out your mouth. Since that can also do a number on your breath, keep your tea intake to a moderate level, or go for decaf.

Sugarless Candies and Gum

bad breath

Any snack that increases saliva flow in your mouth, like sugar-free candy or gum, will help reduce odor in your mouth. Wondering what flavor to opt for? Mint may temporarily mask a bad smell. Cinnamon, on the other hand, may help to stop it at the source. This essential plant oil that’s often used for flavoring cinnamon gums and candies, known as cinnamic aldehyde, can reduce odour-causing bacteria.


bad breath

A dry mouth can make your breath pretty unbearable. In some ways, water acts like artificial saliva, since it can wash away those leftover bits of garlic bread. Keep a water bottle in your workspace. Your colleagues will likely thank you for it.

Other Causes of Bad Breath

Having bad breath doesn’t necessarily mean you ate something that’s bad for you, it could be the symptom of something else. You could also be suffering from different ailments that must be checked by your doctor, take this into consideration.


Dehydration is the leading cause of bad breath other than poor dental hygiene.Not drinking enough water means food (and the bacteria that feed on it) hangs out in your mouth longer, breeding and heightening the stench. Fortunately, the fix is as simple as the problem: Drink lots of water. Plain H2O is best, but doctors add that sugar-free gum or candies can also help stimulate saliva flow.

Cancer, Kidney Disease or Other Serious Illness

Bad breath may smell equally stinky to our untrained noses but according to researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder, not all bad breath is created equally, and the presence of certain, ahem, gasses in your mouth can indicate disease. For instance, excess methylamine may signal liver and kidney disease, ammonia may be a sign of renal failure, elevated acetone levels can indicate diabetes, and nitric oxide levels can be used to diagnose asthma, according to the scientists. A separate study found that a certain mix of bad breath gasses can even indicate malignant throat cancer. You can’t tell just from a sniff test but if you have chronic bad breath it might be worth getting a more sensitive test done in your doctor’s office.

Too Much Outdoors Exercise

Athletes have a higher proportion of breathing problems than the average population, according to a surprising study published by the European Respiratory Society. Of people who exercised outdoors, about one in ten experienced some type of breathing problem like asthma, wheezing, and dry mouth, with cyclists being the most affected with nearly 50 percent. The problem, according to the researchers, is the outdoor air. While a breath of fresh air is certainly good for you, the too much cold air in the winter dries out your mouth and in warmer months pollen and pollution wreak havoc. The end result can be bad breath related to allergies, nasal drainage, or chronic dry mouth. This doesn’t mean you should quit exercising, but rather that you might want to limit your time exercising outdoors when it’s very cold, during allergy season, or in polluted areas. Here are other bizarre things exercise does to your body.

Risk of Heart Disease

bad breath

Gum disease and heart disease are closely linked, with gingivitis being an early warning sign of cardiovascular problems, according to a study done by the International & American Association for Dental Research. And one of the major signs of gum disease is bad breath. Treat your gum disease and not only do you ditch the noxious mouth fumes but you also improve your heart health. Don’t miss these other silent signs of clogged arteries.


One of the hallmarks of sore-throat disease is persistent bad breath. The same bacteria that give you bad breath are the ones that also infect your tonsils, giving you recurrent sore throats. Tonsillectomy, a surgery that removes the two glands in the back of your throat, can help treat the sickness and bad breath, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

Risk for Preterm Delivery

Pregnant women need to pay particular attention to bad breath, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Women with gum disease often signified by halitosis are more likely to have premature or low birth weight babies. This is why it’s so important to stay on top of your dental hygiene and checkups when you’re expecting, the group says. Here other secrets dentists wish patients knew.

A Stomach Ulcer

When you think ulcers you probably think of terrible stomach pain, problems eating and heartburn. But you may be overlooking another common symptom of the malady: bad breath. Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria are known to cause stomach ulcers and also responsible for a large proportion of gastric cancers, can also make your mouth mega malodorous, according to research published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology. Here are other reasons your stomach pain is acting up.


You can now add bad breath to the list of health problems caused by being overweight, according to a study from Tel Aviv University. The researchers found that the more overweight a person is, the more likely their breath will smell unpleasant to others. They’re still investigating why this is the case. It may have to do with biological dysfunction or it may be another example of the social stigma endured by the obese.

Too Much Mouthwash

bad breath

Mouthwash is another product marketed to reduce bad breath that may actually make the problem worse. Most mouthwashes temporarily destroy bacteria, which may sound great until you realize they’re getting rid of all your oral bacteria. As your mouth repopulates you’re at risk for a bad bacteria overgrowth, according to experts. Plus the alcohol in mouthwash can dry out your mouth, another precursor for bad breath. Lastly, many people use mouthwash to mask poor dental care.

You’re Not Brushing Correctly or Enough

Okay, so this isn’t the most surprising thing on this list, but bad dental hygiene is the most likely reason behind your bad breath. “Halitosis is often the first sign of poor oral hygiene that may eventually lead to further periodontal problems,” said Walter A. Bretz, DDS, PhD, an adjunct associate professor in the department of cariology and comprehensive care at New York University College of Dentistry and the lead author of a large-scale study on the subject. “A good way to prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay is through at-home oral hygiene care and routine dental visits.” So make sure you’re brushing and flossing daily.

The best way to ensure a healthy mouth is by following a dedicated daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing routine alongside regular dental cleanings. Maintaining good oral hygiene and a balanced diet can not only help reduce the risk of bad breath but also contribute to reducing your risk of gum disease and periodontitis. Contact Serena Family & Cosmetic Dentistry to schedule a consultation.

Thank you for Sharing

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *