Ask a Dentist

August 11, 2023

Q: What Foods Cause Bad Breath?

Foods that give you bad breath on a white tiled counter: onions, garlic and herbs

Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort for many individuals. While factors such as poor oral hygiene, dry mouth and certain medical conditions contribute to bad breath, it's important to recognize that the foods we consume also play a significant role. The old saying, "You are what you eat," holds true when it comes to the odours emanating from our mouths. 

What Foods Cause Bad Breath After Eating?

Certain foods can cause bad breath due to the interactions they have with the bacteria in our mouth and the chemicals they release during digestion. When we eat, food particles can stick to our teeth and tongue, providing a feast for the bacteria in our mouth. These bacteria then break down the food, especially carbohydrates, and produce acids that result in an unpleasant smell. 

Certain foods, such as garlic, onions and spicy foods, contain compounds that can enter the bloodstream during digestion and be released through the lungs, leading to lingering bad breath. Coffee and alcoholic beverages can contribute to dry mouth, a condition that reduces saliva production and promotes bacterial growth, resulting in bad breath. Tuna and other fish, particularly canned fish, contain trimethylamine, a compound responsible for the distinct fishy aroma. These odours can persist even after digestion.

How Can I Avoid Bad Breath Associated With These Foods?

Fortunately, you don't have to avoid these foods altogether just because they can affect your breath. There are strategies you can employ to combat bad breath after consuming these foods. Chewing sugar-free gum or brushing your teeth promptly after eating spicy or aromatic meals can help alleviate bad breath. Drinking water before and after consuming caffeinated or alcoholic beverages can reduce dry mouth and freshen your breath. For fishy odours, you can try splashing lemon or vinegar on the fish before eating, as the acidic ingredients can help reduce the potency of trimethylamine. Chewing sugar-free gum or brushing your teeth after eating fish may also help combat the scent.

By incorporating these tips into your routine, you can continue to enjoy flavourful foods while taking steps to keep your breath fresh. Remember, practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining regular dental check-ups are also crucial for overall oral health and addressing any underlying causes of bad breath. It’s important to remember that if bad breath persists despite these efforts, you should consult with your dentist for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized recommendations. 

Dental Image Therapy Centres is here to provide you with exceptional dental care and support on your journey to fresh breath and optimal oral health. Schedule an appointment at one of our clinics (St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre) to receive expert guidance, professional cleanings and tailored treatment options. Together, we can ensure you achieve a confident, healthy smile free from the burdens of bad breath.

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