Foods that Cause Bad Breath: How to Battle Bad Breath

Bad breath doesn't have to be a problem. There are many ways to combat it and still enjoy the foods you love. Here are some foods that cause bad breath, and how to control or prevent them from affecting your oral hygiene.

Garlic, Onions and Spicy Foods

If you're going out for lunch or dinner with friends, be proactive about your breath. Carry a toothbrush and toothpaste in your handbag so that you can eat a spicy curry or garlic and onions, but help alleviate their affects by brushing afterwards. A quick trip to brush your teeth in the bathroom after your meal will help wash away some of the bad breath causing agents of these foods. An antimicrobial toothpaste, such as Colgate Total® Fresh Mint Stripe, not only leaves you with a clean mouth and fresher breath right away; it helps fight germs that lead to the bad breath, and keeps your mouth clean for up to 12 hours.

Coffee and Other Beverages

If you need a strong coffee to get started in the morning, follow it up with a glass or bottle of water. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages can cause dry mouth; according to the Mayo Clinic, dry mouth produces bad breath by allowing bacteria to survive without the saliva washing it away. Regularly drinking water, particularly at meal times, can help wash this bacteria away and alleviate the bad breath associated with dry mouth.

Tuna and Fish

For many people, a tuna sandwich is the perfect lunch. They are filling, high in protein and delicious! If you can't brush your teeth right after a tuna sandwich, pop a piece of sugar-free gum into your mouth to freshen up. Chewing gum helps stimulate saliva to wash away any food particles that might be stuck on your teeth. Another tip for fish lovers is to splash lemon or vinegar onto your fish before eating because it helps reduce the "fishy" odor. According to the American Society of Nutrition, this smell is caused by trimethylamine (TMA); acidic ingredients can help TMA bind to water, reducing its smell.

Don't Forget the Basics

Remember, a good oral care routine can help you breath smell amazing, even if your diet is full of strongly scented foods. Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once daily to get rid of pieces of food that are stuck between your teeth and gums. Be thorough with your routine by brushing for a minimum of two minutes each time. Rinse with a freshening mouthwash such as Colgate® Total Advanced Pro-Shield™ after you brush and floss. It offers extra protection against the germs that remain after a meal.

You don't have to give up foods that cause bad breath. Just know how to fight back against it so that your breath is ready for whatever is on the menu.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Foul-smelling breath, usually caused by the breakdown of food. Other culprits include poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, disease, infection, tobacco use and severe dieting.


Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible causes that include:

  • Food particles from stinky foods like garlic and onions
  • Smoking
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Acid Reflux
  • Poor Oral Hygiene

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