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foods that might cause bad breath halitosis - brooklyn dentist

Common Foods that Might Cause Bad Breath

Do you suffer from halitosis, commonly referred to as ‘bad breath’? Having bad breath can be embarrassing but if your mouth is healthy, the solution could be as simple as proper dental hygiene. Halitosis could also be a symptom of an underlying issue, such as gum disease or improper nutrition. Below, you can find a list of foods that could be causing your mouth odor and what treatment options you should take to eliminate bad breath.

According to The American Dental Association:

Halitosis – or chronic bad breath – is something that mints, mouthwash or a good brushing can’t solve. Unlike “morning breath” or a strong smell that lingers after a tuna sandwich, halitosis remains for an extended amount of time and may be a sign of something more serious.

Foods that could be causing short-term bad breath

Garlic, Onions, and Spicy Foods

It should be no surprise garlic and onions have the potential to give you bad breath. They are delicious but if you plan on eating them during your lunch break, be proactive and carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you so you can brush afterward.


Have you ever heard of the phrase “coffee breath?” Sometimes having a cup of coffee in the morning is necessary to start your day, but make sure that you drink a bottle of water after to prevent odors from forming. Coffee is a diuretic so if you notice you’re getting dry mouth after a cup, brush and drink fluids to alleviate this side-effect.

Tuna and other Fish

Do you love seafood? Before you take a bite of that tuna sandwich, don’t forget your toothbrush. Seafood can leave you with bad breath if you’re not careful. You can fix this by popping a piece of gum into your mouth after eating. Another tip – put lemon or vinegar on your fish before you take a bite to reduce the fishy odor.

All of these foods can temporarily cause odors in your mouth but practicing good dental hygiene should eliminate the issue. Just make sure you brush and floss after eating. Also, you can try to eliminate these out of your diet, just to see if that improves the issue.

However, if you eliminate these foods out of your diet and practice proper hygiene but you still have halitosis, these are signs that there may be other issues causing you bad breath.

Foods that cause chronic mouth odor and bad breath

Nutrition and your bacteria play a major role in body odor. Halitosis can be a symptom of bacterial imbalance within your gut and mouth. Your oral bacteria break down what you eat and release a by-product called Volatile Sulfide Compounds (VSC). When there is an imbalance, there is a buildup of compounds, resulting in halitosis.

To decrease these odor-causing compounds, reduce the number of amino acids that you consume. How do you know that your odor is being caused by VSCs? There are three types of bad breath caused by VSCs:

Rotten egg smell

When you consume the amino acid cysteine, it breaks down and gives off an eggy smell. If your halitosis smells like eggs, try eliminating these from your diet:

  • Soybeans
  • Beef & lamb
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Chicken, turkey, and pork
  • Oats
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Rotten Cabbage or Fishy Smell

Most bad breath is due to bacteria breaking down the hydrogen in the mouth. If you notice a fishy smell coming from your mouth, try eliminating these from your diet:

  • Beetroot
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Seafood

The breakdown of the essential amino acid methionine is causing your mouth to have unpleasant odors. Usually, when it is broken down into methyl mercaptan, it is a sign that you have gum disease and that you may need to see a dentist.

If you want to avoid eating foods rich in methionine, keep these out your diet:

  • Cheese (Parmesan has the highest levels)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Lean beef & lamb
  • Chicken and turkey breast and pork sirloin
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans

Try to eliminate these foods from your diet to see if your halitosis improves. If this does help, you should also see a dentist to check your gum health.

Also to help restore bacterial balance in your mouth and gut, try taking a probiotic. Probiotics will reintroduce good bacteria into your body and help restore the balance that you need to reduce the unpleasant odors. Probiotics can be found in over-the-counter supplements, or in whole foods like yogurt.

Another way to restore the balance in your mouth bacteria is to temporarily eliminate carbs from your diet. Sugar and simple carbohydrates will increase bacterial imbalances and result in more odor-causing compounds to occur. Try to eliminate foods that are high in starches (potatoes, grains, corn, beans) and sugar; instead, substitute them for foods that are high in fiber.

Eat these foods to improve your halitosis / bad breath

To combat bad odors, try adding more acids to your diet. Increase your intake of lemons, limes, and apple cider vinegar to help combat halitosis. Just make sure that your brush your teeth afterward to protect your teeth. Also, add chlorophyll, zinc, and magnesium to your diet to help eliminate odors and deodorize your mouth.

If you’ve changed your diet and lifestyle, and still find that you’re suffering from bad breath, contact our Brooklyn dental office today and schedule a consultation with our dentists or hygienists. The issue may not be food or lifestyle related, but a deeper issue related to your oral hygiene.

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