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Alcohol Breath: Causes, Facts, and Solutions

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/04/2022

Drinking alcohol leads to alcohol breath, which is a type of bad breath. Someone who has alcohol breath has breath that, well, smells like alcohol. While alcohol breath isn’t the worst breath to have, it can be a potent odor that others dislike. Alcohol breath can also vary based on the type of alcoholic beverage that was consumed; vodka can smell different than whiskey and beer. For some people, alcohol breath is a serious problem. Understanding how alcohol breath works can help you learn about its causes and solutions. We’ll also take you through some quick fixes for alcohol breath and methods to prevent alcohol breath. 

What Causes Alcohol Breath?

Alcohol breath is primarily caused by two factors. The first factor is how alcohol interacts with organs in the body. In the body, alcohol interacts with the lungs and is absorbed into the lungs. When alcohol enters the lungs it creates an odor when someone exhales. Typically, alcohol breath caused by the lungs smells the same regardless of the type of alcohol that’s consumed.

Alcohol breath can also be caused by the side effects of alcohol consumption. One of these side effects is dry mouth. Dry mouth is caused by drinking alcohol because alcohol causes dehydration, which reduces the amount of saliva that’s produced in the mouth. When someone has a dry mouth, their chances of bad breath increase because there’s more bacterial growth in the mouth.

What are the Solutions for Alcohol Breath?

There are several solutions for alcohol breath. Ultimately, getting rid of alcohol breath fast is possible if you use the right assistance. Some of the best solutions for getting rid of alcohol breath fast are listed below.

  • Coffee 
  • Peanut butter
  • Gum
  • Cough drops 
  • Brushing teeth 
  • Consuming something smelly 

1. Coffee

Coffee is a beverage that has a strong odor. Because of coffee’s potent odor, it can mask the smell of alcohol breath. Coffee is good for masking the smell of alcohol in the breath for short periods and can even change the way your breath smells. That said, coffee will make your breath smell like coffee instead. Whether the smell of coffee is better or worse is up to the individual. However, it can mask the smell of alcohol breath for a few hours and even mask the smell of alcohol that comes from the lungs.

2. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a sticky substance that can be spread on bread and other meals. Peanut is great at getting rid of alcohol breath because it has a potent odor. Moreover, it sticks to many areas of the mouth. When peanut butter gets stuck in the mouth it’s more likely to affect the smell of the mouth. If someone has a dry mouth from alcohol consumption this becomes more noticeable. This is because peanut butter can change the type of bacteria that are growing in the mouth, which can change the smell of the breath.

3. Gum 

Chewing gum can also get rid of alcohol breath fast. Gum is a great resource for bad breath because it has strong aromas and flavors. Choosing minty gum is the best course of action when dealing with alcohol-related bad breath because it has the strongest odor. Still, other types of gum can mask the smell of alcohol breath. Keep in mind that chewing gum to mask the smell of alcohol does not remove alcohol from the breath; it can still trip a breathalyzer.

4. Cough Drops

Cough drops help with alcohol breath because they’re designed to coat the mouth and throat. For this reason, cough drops can remove some of the bacteria in the mouth that leads to the smell of alcohol breath. Cough drops also have a strong aroma that can mask the smell of alcohol breath that comes from the respiratory system (lungs). In fact, cough drops are one of the best methods for dealing with alcohol-related bad breath.

5. Brushing Teeth

Brushing your teeth is one of the best ways to handle alcohol-related bad breath. This is because brushing your teeth attacks the bad breath problem in a few ways. First and foremost, brushing your teeth removes bacteria from the mouth that cause bad breath. Brushing your teeth can also help with a dry mouth because it adds moisture to the mouth. Minty toothpaste also attacks bad breath and masks odors caused by bacteria in the mouth and alcohol that’s being released by the lungs. Overall, brushing your teeth is the best way to address alcohol breath if possible.

6. Consuming Something Smelly

If all else fails, consume something smelly. There are tons of foods and beverages that have a potent smell. Consuming something smelly can mask the smell of alcohol that’s produced by bacteria in the mouth and the lungs. While it won’t cure alcohol breath it can help you hide the issue. However, make sure you choose the smelly food or beverage carefully because your breath will smell like that instead. We recommend choosing candy, fruits, and breath mints.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Breath?

Alcohol can stay on your breath for between 12 and 24 hours after your last alcoholic beverage. A breathalyzer can detect alcohol in the breath this way and can result in a DUI charge if the police find alcohol in your system when driving a vehicle. Alcohol leaves the body in a few ways but 10% of alcohol leaves the body through the breath. It’s for this reason that alcohol can be detected in the breath for extended periods.

Why Is It so Hard to Get Rid of the Smell of Alcohol in Breath?

Getting rid of the smell of alcohol in the breath is challenging for a few reasons. First and foremost, alcohol breath can be caused by a side effect of alcohol consumption, which is dry mouth. When someone has a dry mouth bacteria grows rapidly in the mouth, which leads to bad breath. Depending on the types of alcoholic drinks that were consumed, this bad breath can smell like alcohol.

It’s also challenging to get rid of the alcohol in the breath because the body removes alcohol from the body through the lungs. While the body only removes a small percentage of alcohol through the lungs, it’s enough to make someone’s breath smell like alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol that’s in the breath from the lungs takes several hours to go away and can’t be masked.

Can You Get Rid of Alcohol Breath Permanently?

No, you can’t get rid of alcohol breath permanently. That said, you can mask the smell of alcohol breath. The smell can be masked by using foods and drinks with a strong aroma. Some examples include mints, chewing gum, coffee, and peanut butter. The only way to permanently get rid of alcohol breath is to stop drinking alcohol completely. Otherwise, the body needs to process alcohol in the body before it goes away.

Are Solutions for Fixing Alcohol Breath Temporary?

Solutions for fixing alcohol breath are only temporary. There’s no way to permanently remove alcohol from the breath if the body has a BAC that’s more than 0.0%. The temporary solutions like mint chewing gum and cough drops can be effective at masking the smell of alcohol breath for a few hours, though.

Does Using Menthol and Minty Products Help to Fix Alcohol Breath?

Using menthol and minty products does help to fix alcohol breath. Ultimately, it depends on your definition of “fixing” alcohol breath. On one hand, menthol and minty products can hide the smell of alcohol in the breath and remove bacteria in the mouth that produce bad breath. On the other hand, alcohol breath that’s produced by the lungs can’t be fixed. When alcohol is being exhaled through the lungs, it can only be fixed when BAC levels return to normal.

Does Using Breath Perfume Help to Fix Alcohol Breath?

Breath perfume can help to fix alcohol breath. It can remove the odor of alcohol in the breath but it doesn’t reduce alcohol that’s present in the lungs. Therefore, it can make someone’s breath smell better but alcohol will still show up when tested by a breathalyzer device. When using breath perfume, using mint products is the best option because of their potent smell.

Does Quitting Alcohol Make Bad Breath Go Away?

Quitting drinking can help with bad breath in the long term. Because less alcohol is consumed, alcohol breath won’t occur. As mentioned previously, the best prevention for alcohol breath is to not drink alcohol.

That said, quitting alcohol can make your breath worse for a short period. During the withdrawal period of quitting drinking, one of the side effects is dry mouth. When the mouth is dry it leads to bacterial growth in the mouth that contributes to bad breath. Alcohol withdrawal typically lasts for about a week but severe cases can last for several weeks.