Halitosis, oral malodour and bad breath are experienced by 50% of people throughout their lifetime. While poor oral health, nicotine use, tooth decay and gum disease can all contribute to bad breath, certain foods and drinks can be major causes of bad breath too. By identifying these foods and drinks in the diet and mitigating their effects, limiting intake or eliminating them completely, bad breath and halitosis can be prevented and treated. The good news is that when bad breath or oral malodor has been caused by food and drink, it can be easily treated at home with the right oral care routine and solutions. 

Food That Cause Bad Breath

Citrus Fruits

Acidic foods provide the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive in the mouth. Bacteria that form on the teeth, gums and mouth release a gas when they come into contact with acidic food. Citrus fruits that are high in acid like oranges, lemons, grapefruits, pomelos, and limes can all be causes of bad breath. Wait one hour after eating citrus fruit before brushing to avoid acid erosion and eradicate bad breath. 

Protein-Rich Foods 

Eating a diet that is too protein-rich or eating a lot of protein-rich foods can lead to bad breath. When digesting protein, the body produces a gas called ammonia which can smell unpleasant. This smell is commonly described as bad breath or halitosis. Enjoy protein as part of a balanced diet but avoid eating too much protein to stop bad breath. 


Tinned Fish 

Fish that has been tinned oxidises in a way that fresh fish doesn’t due to a compound called trimethylamines. When ingested, tinned fish like tuna, anchovies and salmon can cause bad breath or halitosis. Hydrating with water after eating tinned food, brushing teeth and using dental floss and mouthwash can all help to combat this kind of bad breath.

Garlic & Onion 

Garlic and onion are two of the most common foods that result in bad breath. As the body digests these foods, their byproducts are absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the lungs, resulting in bad breath that can be extremely strong and can last for hours. Avoiding those strongly flavoured foods will help prevent bad breath from occurring. 

Drinks that Cause Bad Breath


Coffee commonly causes bad breath due to its effect on the mouth’s saliva levels. Caffeine consumption and its dehydrative effects lead to less saliva being produced in the mouth which allows odor-causing bacteria to thrive. This results in halitosis. Make sure you hydrate with water after caffeine use to ensure bad breath is cured. Mouthwash and brushing can also be useful in treating caffeine-induced bad breath. 


Just like coffee and caffeine, alcohol affects saliva production which leads to bacteria forming in the mouth, causing bad breath to occur. Avoiding alcohol overuse , hydrating after alcohol, brushing, using mouthwash and maintaining good oral care overall will help to mitigate bad breath.


Instilling a good oral care routine is the most effective and accessible way to cure bad breath. Brush teeth and gums twice a day for two minutes each time using a sonic toothbrush to ensure teeth, gums and mouth are cleaned deeply and effectively, Floss teeth daily using dental floss or a water flosser to reach the more inaccessible areas of the mouth and use a mouthwash to ensure bacteria in the mouth is eradicated. 

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