Asian woman covering her mouth and smell her breath with hands upter wake up,Bad smell

Foods that Contribute to Bad Breath

Halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath, impacts an estimated one in four people on a regular basis, according to the National Health Service (NHS). Although common, bad breath can have a detrimental effect on a person’s self-confidence and social life. Anyone can suffer from bad breath, especially if they eat certain foods that are known to contribute to foul odors.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath originates both inside and outside of the mouth. It is generally caused by a buildup of bacteria on the teeth and tongue which can contribute to bad breath if not promptly washed away. Eating certain foods containing strong-smelling compounds can also be a factor because they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Although brushing can temporarily help mask the odor, bad breath will usually not go away completely until the food culprit has completely passed through your system.

Foods that Contribute to Bad Breath

If you have been struggling with bad breath, your diet may be to blame. Some of the most common types of food that contribute include:


Your morning cup of coffee may be setting you up for a long day of bad breath. While coffee offers a number of health benefits, such as a lowered risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer, it can sometimes cause bad breath. This is because many types of coffee contain caffeine which can contribute to dry mouth. When the mouth is dry, bacterial growth can increase which causes bad breath.


It’s no surprise that garlic tops the list of foods that contribute to bad breath. When consumed, garlic is absorbed into the bloodstream which causes some of its odor to enter the lungs where it then escapes through the mouth.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a great source of protein and can be a delicious snack. However, its paste-like consistency makes it challenging for salvia to break it down in the mouth. The stickiness of peanut butter often causes it to remain in the mouth for many hours or until the next time you brush.


Similar to garlic, onions tend to have a strong odor that can linger in the mouth. This is because onions contain sulfur compounds that get absorbed into the bloodstream and emitted through the mouth.

Canned Fish

Canned fish differs from fresh salmon or tuna in that it has time to oxidize and negatively react to other elements. When you consume canned fish, you also eat a compound known as trimethylamine that can lead to an unpleasant smell that stays in the mouth.


If you have ever experienced a hangover, you may have noticed that bad breath often accompanies alcohol consumption. Similar to caffeine intake, alcohol can contribute to dry mouth which can cause halitosis or make it worse.


Horseradish contains a chemical compound known as isothiocyanate. This is what gives the plant its unique smell and flavor and what makes it a popular addition to dressings and cocktail sauces. However, this byproduct of the plant tends to linger long after a person has eaten horseradish.

Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce and other acidic foods can cause a buildup of acids in the mouth. These acids can promote the growth of bacteria which can lead to bad breath. You can help keep bad bacteria in the mouth to a minimum by sipping on water while eating a meal containing red sauce.

Speak with Your Dentist

Everyone experiences bad breath at one time or another. Fortunately, there are many ways to help minimize these incidents.

Brushing and flossing teeth daily can help remove food particles and minimize the bacteria growth responsible for halitosis. It is also important to eat a well-rounded, healthy diet and to avoid poor habits that can cause bad breath, such as smoking and chewing tobacco. Persistent bad breath may be a sign of another problem, such as periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease can occur due to a buildup of plaque on the teeth.

For more information about battling bad breath or to speak with a knowledgeable dentist about your concerns, reach out to Vero VIP Implants & Periodontics today and schedule an appointment in either our Vero Beach or Melbourne office.