Common medical questions and answers through blogs and articles

Best Diet to Prevent Bad Breath

It’s hard to resist raw chopped onions on a Coney dog or a big burger with a thin slice of raw onion, but you’d better hope you don’t have to socialize too much after downing these tasty treats.

Battling Bad Breath

As a general rule, bad breath is related to what we drink or eat.  As to beverages, alcohol is sure to give you bad breath, coffee does as well.  Different cultures have spicy foods, and people who consume these foods on a regular basis, will experience odors, not only emanating from their mouth, but also from their pores.

Listerine, a leading mouthwash manufacturer, says there are five top foods that will give you bad breath – of course, we are familiar with onions and garlic being the biggest culprits, and even canned tuna is no surprise, but horseradish and dairy foods also make your mouth feel a little funky.

Dairy products as a source for bad breath may surprise you, but, while dairy products may be good for your teeth and bones, they make your mouth feel unclean.  This is because naturally occurring bacteria from your tongue feeds on the amino acids in dairy products (milk, cottage cheese, yogurt and cheeses), resulting in a foul odor.

Medical Reasons For Bad Breath

The medical term for bad breath is “halitosis” and it is described as a foul odor emanating from the mouth.  While halitosis is certainly not an medical emergency, it is an embarrassing malady that afflicts 25 to 30 percent of the world’s population.

Excluding cultural reasons, as well as foods and beverages ingested, as cited above, there are many origins for bad breath.  The most-common reasons are dental cavities, gum disease, poor oral hygiene and a coated tongue (a white or yellow coating that forms on the tongue, usually caused by inflammation or not properly cleaning the tongue).

It is hard to imagine all the bacteria thriving in our mouth at any given time.  It does not necessarily mean you have poor dental hygiene, because everyone has mouth bacteria present.  We cannot see the hundreds of bacteria that live in our mouth – some are on the tongue, or below the gum line, or in pockets created by gum disease between the gums and teeth.  These types of bacteria create an odor that smells sulfur-like.  People who suffer from malnutrition, due to fat breakdown, are plagued by bad breath that has a fruit odor.  Medical maladies like uncontrolled diabetes, intestinal disorders like heartburn, ulcers or lactose intolerance, or infections such as a sore throat or sinusitis, can also trigger bad breath.  Finally, taking medications that cause dry mouth will cause bad breath since saliva has an antimicrobial effect.

Good Oral Health

Top dentists say that dental plaque, inflammation of the gums and decay all contribute to halitosis.  Good oral hygiene is an excellent way to keep your breath smelling sweet, so see your dentist and hygienist twice yearly for regular check-ups and plaque removal respectively.  In between, keep your mouth scrupulously clean by brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day, using mouthwash and regularly cleaning your tongue.  Replace your toothbrush every two to three months.  Your mouth will thank you, as will others around you.  Other go-to solutions to keep your breath clean are listed below:

Good Food

You can double up on keeping your breath clean by incorporating some of these foods and beverages into your daily diet:

Cheese or yogurt – Although dairy can cause a film on teeth that causes bad breath, nibbling on hard cheese or a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt after a meal that leaves your mouth a little too aromatic, will help to keep your mouth smells manageable.

Crunchy produce –To eradicate the soft and sticky foods that become trapped between your teeth and cause minute bacteria buildup and odors, snack on crunchy produce like apples, carrots and celery which literally “scrub” your teeth clean until your next brushing and flossing session.  The pectin in apples helps control food odors and promotes saliva production.  Cinnamon is antimicrobial and active cultures in yogurt help reduce odor-causing bacteria in the mouth.

For a treat that tastes good and keeps your mouth fresh, try this crunchy mixture:


1 cup apple chunks

1 cup grated carrot

1 cup diced celery

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup crushed walnuts

3 to 5 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt

Ground cinnamon


Mix the apple, carrot, celery, cranberries, and walnuts together in a large bowl.  Add yogurt by the tablespoon to moisten the mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (Serves two.)

Keep Breath Smelling Sweet

  • Chew a handful of cloves, fennel seeds, or aniseeds because their antiseptic qualities help fight halitosis-causing bacteria.
  • Chew a piece of clean lemon or orange rind for a citrus burst of flavor that will stimulate the salivary glands and instantly fight bad breath.
  • Chew a fresh sprig of parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro because the chlorophyll found in these green plants helps to neutralize odors.

Beverages Are Helpful

Water – It does not have to be bottled water, just grabbing a glass of water from the tap works just as well.  Take a swig and swish it around in your mouth a few times to wash the remnants of garlic or onion from your mouth – water acts like artificial saliva to cleanse the mouth and freshen the breath.

Black tea – Black tea has compounds called polyphenols which prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause bad breath and decrease the bacteria that give you that unsavory smell.  Additionally, black tea has a bonus – it has also been shown to help prevent tooth decay, but, keep in mind that too much caffeine will dry out your mouth causing bad breath, so drink tea in moderation.

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