Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, can often be caused by consuming alcoholic beverages, especially when drinking occurs excessively. Most people who have consumed alcohol may have breath that smells unpleasant for several hours afterwards. For those who regularly consume high amounts of alcohol, however, bad breath may become chronic and can indicate other health concerns like liver damage.
Bad breath that is caused by alcohol consumption is a result of the body processing toxins. Alcohol is treated as a toxin by the body, and it is therefore converted into a less-harmful chemical. This process is accomplished through metabolism, which converts 90% of the alcohol you consume into acetic acid. Some of the alcohol, however, is released through the respiratory system and through sweat, creating a bad odor in your breath and on your skin. Alcohol also can dehydrate you and impair saliva production, causing your mouth to become dry. This prevents harmful bacteria and debris from being washed away and can lead to prolonged bad breath.
Some alcoholic drinks lead to a more noticeable smell than others. For example, consuming liqueurs and other more-aromatic beverages causes bad breath that is more obviously unpleasant. Large amounts of beer, wine, and hard liquor can also make your breath smell unpleasant for up to 10 hours after you finish drinking.
To prevent bad breath that is caused by drinking alcoholic beverages, consider limiting your alcohol consumption. If you think alcohol may be creating your bad breath, switch to water or low-sugar, low-acidity beverages like milk or tea. Also, make sure that you are maintaining a healthy oral-hygiene routine of brushing your teeth, gums, and tongue after every meal or snack, flossing daily, and using an antibacterial mouthwash. Scheduling regular cleanings and exams with your dentist twice a year is another key way to treat and prevent bad breath. Staying is hydrated is also important to maintain healthy saliva production and to protect your gums, especially when drinking alcohol.