a man checking to see if he has bad breath

Q. I have a problem with terrible bad breath after eating anything with dairy in it, and also anything with sugar. I have had this problem since my early twenties and am now in my sixties.

My husband says it is so bad that he can sometimes smell it from his side of our king-size bed. This is right after brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash before bedtime.

If I stay away from sugar and dairy, the smell goes away completely after four or five days. It starts again within 30 to 45 minutes of eating the offending foods.

We eat out frequently with our daughter and son-in-law, but it is very difficult to avoid problem foods when we do. Even when I explain it to the waiter, I still sometimes find dairy or sugar in my food. I would be blessed to find a cure. Otherwise, I’m pretty much limited to meat and vegetables and I get tired of that after a while.

A. You are the third person who has told us that dairy products such as milk or ice cream cause them bad breath. We could find no research in the medical literature that addresses this symptom, but we are beginning to believe that it might be more widespread than doctors recognize.

One woman discovered that Lactaid (lactase enzyme pills) solved her problem by breaking down milk sugar in dairy products. Intolerance to milk sugar (lactose) is fairly common, though the usual symptoms reported are bloating, gas and diarrhea rather than bad breath.

The difficulty with sugar is trickier to solve. Table sugar is a combination of glucose and fructose. Fewer people seem to have trouble digesting these simple sugars, so there are no enzyme pills to take. If sugar is contributing to your halitosis, avoidance really is the best strategy. We recognize that this is much easier said than done because sugar is in many processed foods.

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  1. Susie H
    Tampa, florida

    There are couple of things to check for and here are the followings: LES (lower esophagus valve) muscle is loose cause the valve not able to close properly, TMAU (body odor and holitosis), allergy (dairy, eggs, and etc), constipations or irregular bowels, candidas, certain medications, srogren disease ( autoimmune disease causes dry skin, mouth, and eyes), and mercury and copper toxin in body through teeth fillings or iud insertions. Please look up the items on the list and it will explain everything you need to know what contributed your bad breath.

    There are many of us out there and yet so many people still don’t understand is not our bad hygiene. There are certain things we can’t control.

    Best luck everyone!!!

  2. Frida S

    I’ve been in the same problem for years too, struggling. What I can say to all of you is that, hopefully, I have into account a pair of days in my life when miraculously this bad went away. So, now that I think about it, there is my hope, in acknowldeging that that thing that is not working inside me it will find its cure. I pray God to heal and I want to do my best and search as you’ve been doing it.

  3. Mindy563
    South Africa

    I too had bad breath, it actually started 2.5 years ago….I was over indulging in coffee, sweets, milk and yogurts….I NEVER suffered from bad breath and it came so unexpectedly and stayed with me for years….very depressing and isolating…

    I tried visiting numerous doctors and I got diagnosed with IBS (which I did not buy) to endless other conditions….one condition which stood out only because I had many of the symptoms was Candida.

    Eventually, after attempting the Candida diet and failing as I was not strict with my regimen, I decided to tackle it again but was not allowed to teach and I had to do the cleanse to get rid of all the toxins.

    First week (on cleanse) – you actually feel weak and like krap….you mainly drinking a veggie broth and eating leafy greens (non-starchy veggies and NO fruit)….still bad breath!

    Second week – Post nasal drip almost completely subsided….moved from cleanse phase and onto the diet…still bad breath!

    Third week….still on diet but decided that decaf was just not working for me…and each time I ate eggs, I would be extremely bloated and my gas would be horrific as well as my breath….I ate about 6 eggs a day…

    One day, I decided to cut eggs out of my diet (I also cut out plain yogurt as it produces a lot of phlegm)….this in fact had a dramatic effect on me….IN A GOOD WAY!

    I figured that my bloatedness, bad breath and smelly gas went away when I cut out eggs from my diet….granted I still used eggs in gluten free bread recipes, but I genuinely felt that too many eggs just like that (boiled/fried) was contributing to my Body Odor.

    I am beginning to believe that certain people cannot break down the protein in eggs and milk and when their body does digest it, it produces sulfur smelling compounds….and granted my sweat even stank….so yes, it is a sure sign that your body is telling you something is not working for you.

    Maybe try the Candida diet or an elimination one to determine which foods are the culprit…
    I would rather cut out eggs and dairy out of my life for good that deal with depression that results from halitosis….hope this helps….

  4. F

    I have had bad breath my whole life. Since high school, I have chronic halitosis. I used to eat candies to mock the smell and it worked. However, since early this year, I found the candy must be making my breath worse. So now I basically drink as much water as I can during the day, by carrying a water bottle everywhere I go, trying to wash the horrible smell away.

    I also have realized dairy products are making my breath worse. I dropped coffee years ago, chocolate as well, now I stopped drinking milk or eating anything with cream. But I wonder if yogurt is fine? (It’s fermented and supposed to facilitate digestion? I wonder if my bad breath is caused by my poor digestion or rooted in my mouth).

    It has been really difficult for me, as I am only in my early twenties but I have had bad breath nearly my whole life. I have always wanted to date a guy, or get close to someone, but my breath has taken my self-confidence and self-esteem. Some friends of mine seem to not notice my breath, they never rub their noses or show disgust while strangers/ colleagues definitely notice my breath.

    I have tried multiple self-treatments, including taking probiotics, drinking liquid chlorophyll, performing oil-pulling and I am now considering to take CoQ10, to treat my gum disease (if there’s any)…

    It is just very difficult for me, I feel like I am cursed and will never be able to live a life. This comment is really me trying to give it out because I am too scared to talk to anyone about my issue, even my parents know but they never address it…

    Thanks for reading :(

  5. E

    I too am suffering. I have gone to numerous doctors who told me I had IBS, Gerd now Sibo, but the issue with bad breath continues. My personality has completely changed as I am scared to kill people slowly with my HORRIBLE breath that I cannot smell, but it’s obvious its offensive.

    I am scared to eat because when I don’t eat – there is no bad breath!! I just changed doctors and after crying in her office she suggested I try the Low-Fodmap diet. I will not give up this quest to find the cure.

    • Marisa F

      I also suffered bad breath for Years! Oraltech Labs bad breath cure program included a 1 week dairy avoidance test and that’s how I discovered I was lactose intolerant !!! Anyway finally cured of bad breath at last !

  6. Muddey H
    Makkah Province

    Please help me in finding a remedy for getting rid of chronic halitosis (bad breath) most of the docotors in Saudi Arabia failed to diognise this disease which I suffered for long term and I having unleaving pain at the end of the my tongue and having metalic test on tongue and having dry mouth.

  7. ess

    Bella – thanks for the reply. I am on day 5 now, and do not see results yet, but I will keep going.I am down to eating meat, vegetables (non starchy/non tubor), and nuts/berries. I recently dropped tea and coffee, as I am starting too experience acid burn in my throat. Not sure if this is due to dropping carbs. The change is drastic, as I ate carbs for my whole life.

  8. ess

    Bella- thanks for the reply!
    I hope to have better results this week, as I had following your ultimate paleo plan, but many of the sites vary in their approach. I had been eating oats and corn products. The smell did not go away. This could also be due to eating bannanas, so I cut all of these foods out. I hope to have better results with this change. I am totally on meat, organic non starchy vegetables, and nuts now.

    • H

      Ess, from what I read, dropping red meat and all meat in general might be necessary

  9. Looking for answers

    I am so happy I found this thread. I did an experiment and eliminated all dairy and sugar from my diet for the past two weeks before Thanksgiving. My tongue turned pink and NO ONE backed up or rubbed their noses at work or at the store. So during the holiday I ate mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, a slice of cake, pie, had a coke and a few other sugary and dairy things. Now my tongue has that ugly white coating back and people started rubbing their noses again. If this is the cure I am willing to adopt a diary and sugar free lifetime because it felt amazing to be confident enough to talk to people without being so self conscious or covering my mouth to speak or backing away to reply to them. Let’s please continue to support each other so we can all find a cure. Please try the no dairy and sugar experiment. I’m going to go back on it again for another two weeks and if it works this time then I’ll know for sure.

  10. Bella

    ESS- With the Paleo diet, it eliminates all processed food, sugar, dairy and anything that can metabolizes into sugar so basically it’s just vegetables, meat and fruit. However, Paleo does also eliminate fruits and vegetables high in starch. Berries are fine. I started seeing results about 4-5days after changing my diet. Naturally, I’m still insecure when talking people but have noticed that people are no longer touching their face or nose when I speak. Therefore, please post your results so that I can determine if it really works. The more we share our experiences the more likely we are to find a cure!

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