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Foods That Cause Bad Breath

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Garlic and onions are known to cause bad breath, but if cutting them out of your diet doesn’t help, it’s important to look for other potential causes. While some people may have a genetic predisposition to bad breath, others may unknowingly have habits that contribute to the issue, like regularly consuming certain foods not usually associated with causing bad breath. Here, we list eight foods that could be contributing to your bad breath, along with simple remedies for when you don’t have a toothbrush. If bad breath continues, consider seeking advice from Dr. Olivia Cui, a dentist in Olds, AB, for personalized guidance on your oral health.

Citrus Fruits

Eating a lot of citrus fruits can create an acidic environment that attracts odor-causing bacteria, particularly for those who are prone to acid reflux. This can lead to acids flowing back into the throat, causing an unpleasant smell. Dr. Olivia Cui dentist of Olds, AB, recommends being mindful of acidic food intake and suggests consuming a sugar-free candy after eating citrus to freshen breath, highlighting the importance of choosing sugar-free options, as bacteria also thrive on sugar.

High-Protein Foods

An excessive intake of protein, such as during a high-protein diet, can produce bad breath due to the body generating ammonia during protein digestion. The resulting odor, often likened to cat pee, escapes through the mouth. When a toothbrush is out of reach, consuming zinc-rich foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, or chickpeas can help control plaque and reduce bad breath.

Canned Fish

Canned fish, in contrast to fresh types, experience oxidation and interact with other substances, resulting in the well-known “fishy smell” associated with trimethylamines in fish. Dr. Olivia Cui, a dentist in Olds, AB, educates her patients on the impact of canned fish on mouth odor. Acidic foods like lemon juice, orange juice, or vinegar can aid in bonding these compounds with water, making it easier for them to be eliminated by drinking. If these ingredients are not available, chewing sugar-free gum can help reduce the unpleasant particles.


Dairy products such as cheese contain amino acids that interact with oral bacteria, leading to the production of sulfur compounds that cause bad breath. Dentists generally advise using toothpaste with fluoride to remove the bacteria causing the odor. If you can’t brush your teeth right away, drinking water can help rinse away bacteria and food particles. Additionally, keeping dental floss on hand allows for the swift removal of any leftover dairy-related residue.

Pasta Sauce

Similar to citrus fruits, the acidity from tomatoes in pasta sauce can lead to acid buildup in the mouth, fostering bacterial growth and causing bad breath. Sipping water during a pasta meal to rinse the mouth and control bacteria. Pasta sauce can cause a huge problem in the stomach. Hence, bad breath can be an obvious outcome.

Peanut Butter

While peanut butter is a rich source of plant protein, its sticky consistency makes it challenging for saliva to break down proteins, allowing bacteria to thrive. Keeping a travel-size oral rinse on hand to remove remnants, reduce bacteria, and refresh breath when indulging in peanut butter. Peanut butter is high in protein, and hence, this causes stomach problems if exercise is not part of your daily routine.


Dr. Olivia Cui elucidates that horseradish, similar to numerous root vegetables, harbors isothiocyanate, a substance that persists after ingestion. The consumption of water might exacerbate the circumstance, hence she suggests partaking in mint tea or masticating sugarless mint gum as a means to neutralize this compound until a toothbrush becomes accessible.


Although coffee is often regarded as beneficial for health, it can cause dryness in the mouth, leading to a decrease in saliva production and the persistence of unpleasant-smelling bacteria. To counteract these effects, it is advisable to maintain a balance by increasing water intake, as it acts as a cleansing agent and helps dissolve malodorous substances.

It is essential to be aware of the types of food that can cause bad breath to maintain good oral hygiene and boost overall confidence. While making changes to your diet and practicing effective oral care can greatly improve bad breath, if the issue persists, it may be necessary to seek professional help from a dentist. A dentist can provide expert guidance, identify underlying causes, offer personalized solutions, and ensure that your oral health is in optimal condition. By addressing the root cause of the problem, you can not only enjoy fresher breath but also have a healthier and more confident smile. If you are in Olds, AB, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with Dr. Olivia Cui, a trusted dentist, to begin your journey toward long-term oral well-being.


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