The food you eat may be one of the causes of bad breath that doesn’t go away. So even if you brush with a toothbrush twice a day, floss and rinse with mouthwash, your diet can be one the cause of bad breath.
How does food cause bad breath?
There are about four ways that food can cause bad breath.
- If you eat and don’t follow with good dental hygiene
- The process of eating
- Diets (fad and celebrity diets)
- Foods that are good or bad for halitosis (bad breath)
#1 Oral hygiene 101
We may sound like your dentist here, but your oral health is often a sign of whether you check these boxes:
- Brush teeth which can help with whitening (use toothpaste)
- Use dental floss (flossing helps to clean between teeth)
- Rinse well with water
- Chew sugarless gum instead of sugar full chewing gum
- Mouthwash (some kinds)
If you have this kind of daily dental hygiene practice, it can help fight bad breath. Good oral care also helps prevent gum disease and gum inflammation (aka gingivitis). Not to mention, tooth decay (cavities) and all the other fun stuff you see dentists for.
#2 Halitosis and Eating
Here’s the science behind that halitosis (bad breath) and eating. Stinky breath tends to come from the smelly mix left by millions of bacteria that feast when you do. These sulfur compounds pig out on any food particles in left in your mouth.
That's why you want to get rid of mouth bacteria and stop further growth of bacteria with oral hygiene 101.
#3 Diet and Bad Breath
Another way to cause bad breath is with your diet. Here we are talking about both food choice which we will get to in a bit. And, diet as in weight loss diets.
Low carb diets such as the Keto and Intermittent Fasting (IF or 5:2) diets are some examples. According to the NHS, one of the side effects of these diets is they can cause bad breath. Especially when they dehydrate you as this can cause dry mouth. And not enough production of saliva is also a cause of breath odor.
#4 Food Choices that Fight Bad Breath
Some foods fight bad breath and others make bad breath worse. So, if you wonder why your breath smells, here are a few of the best and worst foods for your breath.
What foods are good for bad breath?
These foods are good for bad breath. But you still need an excellent oral hygiene routine in place after eating.
We love research and there's a study out of Japan from the International Associations for Dental Research that taught us something new.
It talks about the positive effects of yoghurt on breath. That's great to know since people usually associate yoghurt with the benefits of probiotics on gut health.
Basically, the study looked into the effects of eating sugar free traditional yoghurt. And if doing so had an effect on bad breath and harmful bacteria.
They found that the levels of volatile sulfide compounds, namely, hydrogen sulfide, went down in 80% of the volunteers after six weeks. And that both plaque and gingival indices (related to gum inflammation) were much lower than in the non yoghurt eating group with bad breath.
That said, not all dairy is going to make your breath fresher at all. So this is definitely a gray area vis a vis breath.
Drinking water is one of the easiest and best things for bad breath. Put in simple terms, water promotes saliva production and prevents dry mouth. It is also odor free so it won't add a smell like other drinks.
Cucumbers, celery, fennel, apples, pears
In part, these foods have a high water content which creates a positive chain of events. First by helping the mouth to produce saliva. The saliva then helps wash away big and small food particles.
PLUS, the crunch will act like a “scrubber” on your teeth. And this removal of food particles can prevent the build up of plaque. Plaque is a yucky film of bacteria that coats teeth. So, if you can't use a toothbrush midday, munch on a celery stalk.
Oranges, melons, tomatoes, cherries
Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C which can stave off bad breath as they also prevent gingivitis. These also tend to be juicy and have a high water content.
Green tea and black tea
Both green and black tea contain polyphenols and catechin. These two properties help get rid of the sulfur compounds that cause bad breath. And, act to reduce oral bacteria.
Parsley, Mint and Spinach
"Eat your greens" is common mom speak and science backs her up. An interesting study found that apples, parsley, mint and spinach had a positive effect on garlic breath. These foods act to oxidize polyphenols (science again) and that is like a deodorant in the mouth.
Sugarless gum and mints
Other things that stimulate the production of saliva are sugarless gum and mints. These clean out the odor producing bacteria in a short term way.
6 of the Worst Foods for Bad Breath
Our Breath Consultant says these are the worst six foods as they actually cause bad breath.
Sugar and Processed Foods
Oral bacteria that are part of the mouth's natural flora feed on refined and processed sugars. They use them as fuel and release acids that lower the pH of your mouth. As a result, bad breath causing bacteria can breed.
- Soft drinks
- Cookies, donuts, pastry
- Fast food
- Canned food (e.g. tuna)
- Potato chips
Dairy Products with Strong Smells
Dairy contains dense proteins that bacteria also uses as a food source. More bacteria = more bad breath.
While good for the bones, the natural bacteria on your tongue feeds on the amino acids in dairy products. And that can make the breath smell foul.
Also, if it is vitamin d you are after, mushrooms are a source. They also contain polyphenols that may help with the smell of garlic breath.
Up top we mentioned a study about yoghurt. This is definitely a place of different opinions. So here’s what we know.
Regular unsweetened yoghurt is supposed to be better for your breath that other kinds of dairy products. Especially dairy products with strong smells and lots of sugar.
- Strong cheese (e.g. blue cheese, roquefort)
- Cow’s milk
- Ice cream
Alcohol in foods or beverages are among the most common foods that cause bad breath. There are two reasons for this.
The main reason is that alcohol has a severe drying effect on the mouth. This creates a perfect environment for sulfur-producing bacteria to grow. And with it, chronic bad breath.
Another reason is the bacterial “clans” that result from consuming alcohol. These clans are famous for causing halitosis and other oral diseases. Ironically, the same thing happens when you use mouthwash with alcohol in it.
- Alcohol based mouthwash
Coffee & acidic beverages
Many people drink coffee or other acidic beverages all day. At the same time, they may not brush their teeth after every drink. That isn’t helpful given that acids make bacteria reproduce much faster.
- Iced / hot coffee
- Citrus juices
Garlic and onions
For all its flavor, garlic causes bad breath in two waves. The first is on your tongue where it leaves its mark.
Garlic also makes its way into the bloodstream. While absorbed, it makes its way into the lungs and escapes through the mouth.
If you eat a lot of garlic, it also emits a bad odor through your pores. Especially if you overdo it. And if you eat onions at the same time, it is a two for one bad breath sulphuric special.
Treat Halitosis in One Step
If you love the worst foods and hate the best foods for chronic bad breath, don’t stress. Learn how BreathGuard prevents bad breath for good. Or just go straight to Shop as we talked your ear off already.
Stay healthy, stay informed!
The Zinkh BreathGuard Team