Ah, can you feel that? There's a shift in the air signaling that most glorious of seasons: Fall. But first, coffee, because nothing ushers in the warmth and coziness of autumn like a hot cup of Joe. But good news for those of us who don't want to stroll through corn mazes sporting PSLs and matching coffee breath — according to Yahoo!'s Health Detective web series, figuring out how to cure coffee breath is alot easier than you might think. By examining the root of common bad breath causes like coffee and garlic, we can stave off (or at the very least curb) our favorite foods and drinks from causing oral unpleasantness. Thanks, science!
Here's the gist of it. Coffee contains 200 mg of caffeine in a single eight-ounce cup. Although that makes it perfect for your early morning pick-me-up, the influx of caffeine also temporarily slows your saliva production. This, in turn, leads to xerostomia (say it with me: ZEER-oh-STOH-mee-ah), which you and I know by its street name — dry mouth. This is a problem, why? Well, saliva actually serves an important purpose in that it kills bacteria. The less saliva you have, the more likely it is that bacteria will proliferate, and an abundance of bacteria, my friends, makes bad breath. Since the acidity of coffee lowers your body's pH level, it creates a welcome environment for bacteria to become Stage Five clingers.
The good news is that you don't have to swear off coffee for life and/or be that girl who always has coffee breath. Once you understand what causes coffee breath, there are some pretty simple steps you can take to kick it to the curb. But you don't have to stop there. Applying the same principles, you can combat bad breath triggered by some of your other faves, too. Check out these four common offenders and how to fix them.
1. Coffee Breath
Now that we've nailed down why coffee causes bad breath, we can move on to how to minimize the likelihood our caffeine habit will destine us to a life of dragon breath. For starters, you could kick milk and sugar to the curb — bacteria loves them. Since the odds of me giving up my beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte are slim to none, I'll be drinking more water to combat bacteria-causing dry mouth instead. Other quick and easy ideas are to eat an apple, which has saliva-producing enzymes; drink ginger tea, which boasts anti-bacterial properties; or chomp on a clove, which KO's bad breath like a champ.
2. Garlic Breath
Can't a girl tuck her face into a bowl of her favorite pasta without rocking breath that could kill vampires? As it turns out, yes. You see, the reason garlic makes your breath smell so harsh is because of the sulfuric compounds it introduces into your mouth. Also, like coffee, it can actually promote the growth of bacteria microbes. Garlic breath is particularly tricky to fight too, since those pesky sulfuric compounds get metabolized and end up in your blood stream. So, long story short, the smell will at least faintly remain until the compounds work their way out of your system. However, many people swear by the following garlic breath hacks: Munching parsley, sipping hot mint tea, swilling lemon juice, and drinking milk.
3. Fish Breath
Blech, I know. No matter how much you adore seafood, the sad reality is that it can leave your breath smelling decidedly funky. This type of bad breath manifests in many ways, being associated by some people as straight up "fishy" while others refer to it as having a urine-like or ammonia-esque tinge to it. Regardless, it ain't good. (Also, a very strong, prolonged fishy or ammonia-like breath could be an indicator of poor kidney health, just FYI.) You can sample from the remedies mentioned above to stave off fish breath, but your best bet here is good oral hygiene like flossing and brushing.
4. Egg Breath
The truth is, many food can be the cause of our bad breath. Interestingly, though, "egg breath" isn't the byproduct of eating eggs. In fact, this distinctive odor is the result of organic compounds in many different types of food. The specific name for the smell is sulfides and, well, it stinks. Because it would be impossible to list all the known offenders of egg breath, we'll focus on some biggies: packaged meat, dairy products, broccoli and cauliflower and cabbage. When you eat those, you may want to have floss, mint, ginger, clove or any combination at the ready.
Images: Giphy (4)