Bad breath always seems to pop up at the worst times, like when you’re leaning in for a kiss, trying to talk to someone in a loud room, or at an important meeting across the desk from your boss. While bad breath can be an indicator of an underlying condition, in most cases, bad breath is caused by an unavoidable culprit: Food and drink.
Avoiding that uncomfortable bad breath moment is something we all strive for, but many of us have no idea that what we put into our bodies might be affecting our breath. Some of the biggest bad breath offenders are common food and drinks you might consume all the time. While we don’t suggest you cut out your favorite foods for the sake of good breath, we have a few tips for keeping your breath fresh for life’s most close-talking moments.
Foods that Cause Bad Breath
Though there are some well-known foods that cause bad breath, there are many foods that cause bad breath that may surprise you. Here are some of the biggest offenders and how you can combat their effects:
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions are perhaps the most well known bad breath causing foods, and for good reason. Garlic and onions contain strong sulfuric compounds that can do more than just linger in your mouth. Garlic and onion sulfuric compounds are easily absorbed into the bloodstream where their odors are stored and continually emitted. If you eat a lot of garlic and onions, you may find yourself leaking a garlicky scent hours or even days after eating.
Can’t resist those garlicky dishes? We get it. Get rid of garlic or onion breath by drinking lots of water, brushing and flossing regularly, and using a tongue scraper. If you’ve had a ton of garlic, try eating fresh herbs, drinking apple cider vinegar, or drinking a cup of green tea - these will help neutralize and mask lingering odors.
Dairy is full of natural bacteria and amino acids, which make dairy products just as delicious to bacteria as they are to us. As you chew and digest dairy products, bacteria in your body work to digest and process the milk solids. The digestive process can create an excess of hydrogen sulfide, the chemical responsible for the rotten egg smell you sometimes experience after eating dairy.
While you may be tempted to wash away your cheese-breath with mouthwash, that can actually make the problem worse. To combat dairy breath, brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, floss, and use a tongue scraper.
There is no better partner to a delicious steak than a creamy horseradish sauce, but did you know that deliciously sharp root could be the cause of some seriously nasty breath? Horseradish contains a putrid chemical compound called isothiocyanate produced by the plant to deter animals.
There are some claims that horseradish itself can combat bad breath, but anyone who has experienced stinky breath after downing some horsey sauce can tell you that may not be entirely true. When it comes to getting rid of horseradish breath, try to rinse your mouth first, then follow other good practices for improving breath: brush, floss, and tongue scrape.
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and others might smell amazing themselves, but they can actually cause some pretty gnarly breath. Similarly, tomatoes and tomato sauce can cause bad breath since they contain high levels of acids. Odor causing bacteria thrive and can live on acids, producing a bad smell that can linger for hours in your mouth.
To avoid bad breath caused by citrus and acid devouring bacteria be sure to rinse, brush, and follow best practices for protecting your teeth. You can also try popping sugar-free gum or candy in your mouth after enjoying a citrus fruit. Be sure to make it sugar-free since the same odor-causing bacteria also love sugars!
Proteins like chicken, beef, and pork may be good in moderation, but eating too much protein can cause bad breath. After eating protein, the body produces ammonia for the digestion process, which can escape the stomach through the mouth. Ammonia is fairly foul smelling, and though it won’t occur every time you eat protein, high-protein diets and meals can leave your mouth smelling less than delicious.
Want to avoid ammonia breath? Next time you eat a high-protein meal try having high-zinc foods along side it. Spinach, pumpkin seeds, and chickpeas are all delicious ingredients you can use to create amazing bad breath-combating side dishes.
Peanut butter may not have ever popped up on your radar of bad breath causing foods, but this tasty treat is just as tasty to hungry odor-causing bacteria. Difficult to completely rid from your mouth, peanut butter proteins can linger between your teeth and in your gums for hours after eating. Odor-causing bacteria feast on the leftover proteins, growing and causing a foul odor.
Next time you want to pop a peanut butter cup in your mouth, be sure to rinse afterward to remove any remnants from your mouth.
Drinks that Cause Bad Breath
Bad breath is not solely the fault of your favorite foods, there are plenty of popular drinks that can also cause bad breath. Here are some drinks known to make your mouth smell bad and how you can return your breath to fresh:
Like other dairy products, milk contains amino acids that attract your body’s natural bacteria. Feeding on the amino acids, these bacteria emit a bad odor that can last for hours after you drink a glass of ice cold milk.
Rinse, brush, and floss your teeth to rid your mouth of bacteria and try to avoid drinking milk before important meetings!
Coffee and Tea
Coffee and caffeinated tea may help you get going in the morning and last throughout the day, but they can also make your breath smell awful. Coffee and tea contain caffeine. Caffeine dehydrates and dries, leaving your mouth free of saliva. Saliva is responsible both for killing bacteria and for helping to digest whatever you put in your mouth. By washing away and drying your saliva with coffee and tea, you leave plenty of opportunity for bacteria to begin feasting on acids and sugars left over in your teeth.
You may know that sugary carbonated drinks are bad for your teeth, but did you know your favorite soda could also be making your breath smell bad? The acidity in sodas can attract odor-causing bacteria and dry out your mouth, making it a prime spot for a bacteria party.
To combat the drying and odor causing effects of soda, be sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated; this will help you avoid dry mouth and wash away the sugars and acids that bacteria feed on.
Eco-Friendly Ways to Combat Bad Breath
Brushing, flossing, tongue scraping, and drinking water are the best ways to combat bad breath, and luckily for you, Wowe Lifestyle has amazing eco-friendly tools to help you with all of these!
Rather than reaching for a plastic toothbrush, try an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush instead! Plastic toothbrushes take hundreds of years to break down once they have been disposed of, and harmful plastics can linger in the environment or be eaten by animals decades after you have finished using your toothbrush. Wowe Lifestyle sells an amazing eco-friendly toothbrush alternative. The Eco-Friendly and Natural Bamboo Toothbrush is made from biodegradable and eco-friendly bamboo that won’t harm the Earth once it has finished its job.
Ready to floss? Traditional floss is made using durable nylon, a petroleum derived plastic that is both non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. While nylon can hold up against the rough job of flossing, there are other, better options to get your teeth squeaky clean. Wowe Natural Biodegradable Silk Dental Floss is all natural, biodegradable, and comes in plastic-free eco-friendly packaging. Waxed with natural candelilla wax instead of harmful teflon, this healthy floss option is an all around home-run.
Tongue scraping is an often overlooked part of a good dental health routine, but can offer amazing results. Removing excess bacteria and leaving your tongue feeling as clean as the rest of your mouth. Rather than buying a flimsy plastic tongue scraper, choose a Wowe Metal Tongue Cleaner instead. Available in easy to clean stainless steel or pure copper, our metal tongue scrapers can last a lifetime so you are never again caught with bad breath.
Remember how we mentioned that drinking water is essential to combating bad breath? No? Well we’re mentioning it again! Drink water: it helps keep you hydrated to avoid dry mouth, and will help wash away odor causing bacteria and food residue. One of the number one plastic-pollution culprits is single-use plastic bottles. Rather than waste yet another plastic bottle of water, quench your thirst with the Wowe Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Bamboo Top. Reusable, durable, and easy to clean, this bottle will keep your water supply close at hand for whenever you need it.
Want to learn more about healthy lifestyle products and ways to make your lifestyle more green? Check out Wowe Lifestyle to see more eco-friendly products and read more about what you put in your body and the planet.