22 December 2020

3 mins read

5 Foods That Cause Bad Breath

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Now that wearing face masks has become the new norm – it’s as if we have our hands cupping over our mouths to check our breath all the time! You may notice your breath more than usual, and that some foods can cause bad breath (halitosis) more than others. 

Here are 5 common culprits you should be aware of.


Sorry coffee-lovers, we hate to break it to you but coffee is on our list.


While caffeine is an essential enabler of productivity, it slows saliva production and in turn dries your mouth. Some of us may try countering this by brushing our teeth after we’ve had our morning coffee, but please do not do this!


Coffee is acidic and it weakens your protective enamel. Brushing right after your morning coffee with toothpaste which is alkalinic, will erode the protective layer. If you’re adamant about brushing after eating, wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing and drink plenty of water!

Canned fish

No one will confuse the scent of fish with, say, lavender. Stored in a dark metal can, fish undergo oxidation and start to smell “extra-fishy”. To avoid bad breath after eating canned fish, try to rinse your mouth with water – or use a mouthwash. This will help to flush food out of your mouth, so that any bacteria will have no food debris to feed on. Rinsing your mouth after meals is also a great way to keep up your dental hygiene.


Secondly, keep your mouth moist by drinking more water after your meal. This helps to curb dry mouth – which in turn reduces the likelihood of bad breath.

Garlic and onions

Two of the worst culinary culprits when it comes to bad breath are garlic and onions, especially when consumed raw. While they are essential cooking ingredients and offer many health benefits, they are rich in sulfur compounds.

smelly the knocks GIF by Astralwerks

These compounds give foods their distinctive flavour and release gasses that interact with gas-emitting bacteria, thus conferring extra-distinctive notes to your breath. But it doesn’t stop there. As part of the digestive process, their byproducts are absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the lungs, cueing a bad breath encore.

Milk and cheese

Milk and cheese are a rich source of milk solids (lactose, proteins, and lipids), and can cause dairy breath. As certain types of bacteria in your mouth work to digest them, they sometimes create excess hydrogen sulfide – which causes bad breath. The good news is milk has a neutral pH level of about 6.7-6.9, so brushing your teeth straight after would not erode your enamel.


Alcohol has an astringent effect and can severely dry your mouth as it decreases saliva production. This creates the optimal environment for bacteria to flourish, taking stink to a whole new level.

We believe a life without coffee, canned fish, garlic, onions, dairy products and alcohol is a life not well-lived. Bad breath shouldn’t be a reason to avoid these food indulgences entirely. Turning some of the precautions we’ve mentioned above into habits should allow you to enjoy them while keeping your breath fresh as a daisy.

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5 Foods That Cause Bad Breath