Coffee and bad breath: What causes it and how to fix it

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Coffee and Bad Breath

Coffee and bad breath go hand in hand. But how can something as delicious and aromatic as coffee, leave such a foul odor in your mouth?

It’s caffeine, not the bean, that’s to blame.

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you’re well acquainted with the effects of a little caffeine in the morning. Caffeine stimulates your brain, jostling you awake within just a few sips. It has loads of negative side effects, as you’ve probably heard by now, including xerostomia (translation: dry mouth). And dry mouth is one of the key culprits behind bad breath. Because when your mouth is dry, it becomes a ripe environment for breeding bacteria. Your mouth needs moisture (saliva, water, or the like) to rinse itself of all that bad breath-causing bacteria clinging onto your tongue and teeth.

Naturally, the more caffeinated your morning beverage, the worse your coffee breath will be. Contrary to popular belief, the stronger tasting the coffee, the milder the caffeine content. This is because strong coffee beans are roasted longer, therefore roasting more caffeine right out of the bean. That said, don’t mistake espresso for being a safe bet when it comes to avoiding coffee breath. Espresso beans may contain less caffeine than a mild brew, but because it’s served in such highly concentrated doses, it’s still going to dry your mouth out as much as any other cup of caffeinated joe.

What about decaf?

Decaf does not mean caffeine-free. While decaf coffee contains significantly less caffeine than its beloved counterpart (about 2 – 5 milligrams per cup compared to 50 – 150 milligrams), it still causes dry mouth. And unless you drink your decaf black, you’re still creating a tasty environment for odor-causing bacteria. Which leads us to our next point.

Oral bacteria love sugar and protein.

Your non-fat-sugar-free-no-foam-vanilla latte may be easier on your waistline (except for that sugar-free part), but all those tasty extras are only contributing to your bad breath. This is because the bacteria thriving in your dry, coffee-sipping mouth, are feeding on the sugar and protein in the syrups and milks you’re adding to your java. Stronger bacteria equal stronger stink. Still think you could never drink black coffee?


So you’ve got to have your fix but can’t stand the aftertaste? Here are a few tips for nipping bad coffee breath in the bud:

Sip and then brush
Keep an extra toothbrush at the office so you can scrub your tongue of stubborn odor-causing bacteria.

Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated will help rinse your mouth clean and kick start saliva production.

Pop an organic mint
VerMints Café Express organic breath mints prove coffee flavor and fresh breath can also go hand in hand. 

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