518 Te Atatu Road, Te Atatu Peninsula, 0610
518 Te Atatu Road, Atatu Peninsula, 0610
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No one wants bad breath, so it’s important to know the causes behind it.

In this post, we’re going to explain what foods cause bad breath — and give you some tips to keep your mouth smelling sweet too.

1. Garlic

Most of us love garlic because of its ability to add flavour and depth to our dishes. But if there’s one thing we don’t love about it, it’s the lingering smell!

But research (1) has shown that eating apple, lettuce or mint after garlic can help eliminate those unwanted odours, so try enjoying them after meals containing garlic.

2. Onions

Garlic’s cousin, the onion, is another culprit. Just like garlic, onion releases sulphurous compounds into the bloodstream, which means that their distinctive smell is released from both the mouth and lungs.

Try drinking plenty of water after eating onions or a cup of green tea, which not only reduces bad breath but is great at reducing plaque too.

3. Sugar

If you’ve ever wondered ‘Does sugary food cause bad breath?’ Know that the answer is yes!

That’s because the bacteria that cause bad breath use sugar as their fuel.

The best way to combat sugar-related bad breath is to cut down on these types of foods. Try replacing sugary snacks with fresh or dried fruit as a natural way to get that sweet high.

4. Tinned fish

Tinned fish like tuna, mackerel or sardines can cause bad breath, as it oxidises while in the can, creating a distinctive odour.

Unfortunately, this smell lingers after you’ve had that tasty tinned tuna sandwich, often resulting in bad breath.

Fish is a great source of nutrients, so it would be a shame to ditch it altogether. Instead, try swapping tinned products for fresh fish so you can keep enjoying the flavour and nutritional benefits.

5. Tea and coffee

The problem with tea and coffee is that they both dehydrate the mouth, causing bacteria to become more active. This can lead to bad breath.

We know how hard it is to give up your daily caffeine hit, so try following a cup of your favourite beverage with a glass of water to rehydrate the mouth and rinse away remnants of your tea or coffee.

6. Alcohol

Like tea and coffee, alcohol also has a drying effect on your mouth — which is not good news for your breath.

What’s more, it contains high levels of sulphites, which are compounds with a distinctive odour.

Keep drinking water after alcohol consumption to keep your mouth moist and to counteract the unpleasant effect it has on your breath.

Visit your dentist in Te Atatu and keep your breath smelling sweet

So, we’ve answered the question, ‘Can certain foods cause bad breath?’ — but there are a few more things you need to know.

The best way to keep your mouth, teeth and gums in great shape and your breath smelling sweet is to visit your dentist regularly. They can check your teeth for signs of decay and your gums for disease — both issues that can cause unpleasant odours. Your dentist may also recommend a deep clean and can give you advice on oral hygiene too.

If you’re due a check-up, come and see us at Opal Dental. We’re your local dentist for the Te Atatu Peninsula, here to help you with every aspect of your dental care!


1. Mirondo R, Barringer S. ‘Deodorization of Garlic Breath by Foods, and the Role of Polyphenol Oxidase and Phenolic Compounds,’ Journal of Food Science, October 2016, Volume81, Issue10https://doi.org/10.1111/1750-3841.13439.

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