This Is How to Stop Bad Breath When Fasting

Getty Images / Klaus Vedfelt

During periods of fasting — whether that be for cultural reasons or intermittent fasting — you might experience something a little funky going on with your breath.

It’s an unfortunate fact that fasting can cause this and while it’s not ideal, it’s completely normal.

Not all people experience a change to their breath while fasting, but for those who do, we turned to dentist Dr Lewis Ehrlich from Sydney Holistic Dentist Centre to find out exactly what causes this and whether or not there’s anything you can do to prevent this from happening.

What causes bad breath during periods of fasting?

Whether you’re fasting for an occasion, like Ramadan, or following keto eating principles, you’re probably familiar with the fasting-induced bad breath. According to Dr Ehrlich, while the scent can present differently in people, “common descriptions are ‘metallic’ or a ‘fruity taste’.”

“When we eat food (in particular carbohydrates) throughout the day, our body uses glucose for energy,” Dr Ehrlich told POPSUGAR Australia.

“However, when we fast the body has to fall back on a different energy system. This is our body’s fat stores which are there in case of famine. When fasting or eating a ‘ketogenic diet’, your body can enter a state of ketosis. This process of breaking down fat for energy releases ketone bodies which are a gaseous compound that produce an odour.”

Fasting-induced bad breath versus gum disease

It’s common knowledge that gum disease can also result in bad breath thanks to the build-up of plaque on teeth, however, there’s nothing to fear with bad breath caused by fasting as it’s not a warning sign that something more sinister is occurring.

“The difference is that bad breath associated with poor oral health may be a sign of disease in the mouth like gum disease due to poor oral hygiene and systemic health issues like uncontrolled diabetes,” said Dr Ehrlich.

“Whereas fasting-induced bad breath is not associated with anything necessarily wrong with your teeth and gums rather, just the production of odour producing ketones.”

Preventing bad breath when fasting

While not everyone who fasts will experience this side effect, for those that do, know that there are a few things you can do to help prevent the bad breath from happening.

“Fasting-induced bad breath will not always occur,” said Dr Ehrlich. “Many people do not notice any change in their breath. However, there is always a chance that volatile-sulphur compounds which produce the smell will sometimes be produced no matter what you do.

“Staying hydrated with still water, getting regular professional cleans, flossing, light-tongue scraping, chewing sugar-free gum to promote saliva, and using a minty toothpaste like Grants Of Australia’s Fresh Mint with Fluoride, can assist.”

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