5 Foods that Cause Bad Breath and How to Tackle it

If you have got bad breath and have been into some embarrassing situations due to it, make sure to look at the food you eat. Because anything that we put into our mouth is bound to leave its traces. 

While some foods are good at masking bad breath, others become the reason for the smell coming out of your mouth. Some medical conditions can also lead to bad breath, but you must be aware of the foods that can impact your breath. 

Medically, bad breath is called halitosis, and there are relevant dental procedures to get rid of it. However, the first thing you can do at home is limit the amount of foods that cause bad breath and eat the foods that help you combat bad breath. 

Food that can CAUSE Bad Breath

  • Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onion are on the top of the list that can cause bad breath or halitosis. The smelly sulfur compounds present in garlic and onions stay in your mouth for a long time. 

Due to this, they get absorbed into the bloodstream. When you speak, these smelly compounds come out along with their irritating smell. 

What to Do?

The best way to treat the smell of garlic and onion is by getting rid of any traces of the same from your mouth. Try bruising and flossing the teeth. Plus, rinse the mouth with water thoroughly. 

  • Coffee and Tea

Both tea and coffee dry out your mouth, leaving you with less saliva. They also have a distinct smell that stays put inside the mouth for some time. As a result, you will get bad breath and the risk of developing further issues. Brits drink 100 million cups of tea per day, so leaving won’t be easy. 

What to Do?

But if you want to cut the lingering smell, drink a glass of water after your morning tea. The same applies to coffee; after sipping your favourite coffee, make sure to drink a glass of water. 

Water has a cleansing effect and absolves your mouth from the smelly substances left by coffee and tea. 

  • Canned Fish 

Canned fish, including tuna or salmon, can be a great lunchtime food, but it isn’t great at keeping your mouth fresh and free of smell. As the fish is packed and preserved in a can, it starts to oxidise, which creates an odour. 

The unique smell of the fish comes from trimethylamines. Unless this compound combines with water or another liquid, they will stay in the mouth and ooze out an unwanted smell. Eating the fish will leave that smell in your mouth for a long time after you have had the meal.  

What to Do?

Drinking lemon or orange juice can eliminate the smell by helping the smelly compounds bind with a liquid. You can also try vinegar, another acidic drink, to get rid of the smell. In case these juices are not handy, make sure to keep sugar-free gum in your pocket as it can mask the smell. 

  • Alcohol 

Drinks with high amounts of sulphite cause bad breath and smell. Well, it’s not surprising that alcohol gives a bad breath because it has sulphite. Plus, alcohol has a strong dehydrating effect on the mouth. 

This gives a perfect environment for bad breath, causing bacteria to flourish inside your mouth. 

What to Do?

Drink one glass of water before and after taking your drink. It will help control the dryness, which gives less room for bacteria to grow and flourish inside the mouth. 

  • Proteins

Even though this is not the type of food any gym enthusiast would want to see on the list, it is there. Eating an excessive amount of protein can easily lead to bad breath. 

The smell from protein-based food comes after the breakdown process that goes on in our digestive system. When protein breaks down, it produces ammonia. 

As ammonia is expelled from the body through urination and exhalation, the latter part gives bad breath. Hence, it is essential that you are not overdoing the proteins. 

What to Do?

The best way to reduce the smell is to brush after eating proteins. But if brushing immediately is not possible, make sure to munch on zinc-based foods. This includes spinach, pumpkin seeds, or chickpeas. 

Do I need to see a Dentist for Bad Breath?

Generally, you shouldn’t visit the dentist after one person confronts you about the bad breath or when you face an embarrassing situation once. Initially, work on your diet and try to make some changes in the same. 

Start by drinking plenty of water and eating foods that mask bad breath. 

  • Sugar-free gum
  • Vitamin-C rich foods like broccoli, red bell pepper, etc. 
  • Yoghurt
  • Herbs and spices like parsley, cloves, fennel seeds, etc. 

If diet changes and eating these foods does not help, book an appointment with your dentist. The professional will monitor your dental and overall health to find the reason for bad breath and suggest the right course of action. 

Are there any other Reasons for Bad Breath than Food?

Food is not the only factor that gives bad breath. Other things can also be responsible for this condition. 

  • Infections: Oral wounds and infections caused after tooth removal, braces, implants, etc., can become a reason for bad breath. 
  • Medicine: A wide variety of medicines can cause bad breath because they dry out the mouth. These include antihistamines, diuretics, anticholinergics, antipsychotics, amphetamines, antidepressants, etc. 
  • Inappropriate Dental Care: Not following the recommended dental implants routine can also become a reason for bad breath. Failure to brush and floss daily means that you are allowing the food particles to stay and decay in your mouth. This can easily cause infections, bad breath, and several other problems. 


Considering the points above, we can say that bacteria is the main culprit in the majority of the reasons associated with bad breath. As the bacteria and microbes live in your mouth, they thrive on food particles and dead cells, producing sulfur compounds, which causes halitosis. 

Following the appropriate dental routine and eating the right food while following the precautionary and preventive methods can help you get rid of bad breath at home. If it does not work, make sure to visit a dentist and get a professional opinion on the matter.