Garlic is known around the world for its range of health benefits. It can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and even help to fight cancer. On the culinary side, it gives a special aroma to meals when added into the mix.
However, garlic has one critical flaw – its smell. Despite the numerous health benefits, garlic is notorious for giving those who eat it a characteristic breath. All who have tried garlic can attest to it. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is caused by three compounds found in garlic – allicin, allyl methyl sulfide, and cysteine sulfoxide.
The smell can linger for hours and sometimes till the next morning, too. That’s why so many people go to great lengths to avoid this super healthy vegetable as much as possible. But do you really have to refrain from eating garlic? Keep reading to find out how to get rid of garlic breath in a healthy and safe way.
Have Some Water
The first and most common remedy for garlic breath is a glass of water. Water helps to wash off the remaining bits of garlic from your gums, teeth, and tongue. It can also boost the production of saliva, which can remove some of the odor-producing bacteria from your mouth.
While it won’t kill the smell, water can make it less prominent and more bearable. It is advised to use other odor-removing methods in combination with water.
If you’re in a hurry to make it to a job interview or a date after downing a garlic-rich meal, a minty chewing gum might prove to be one of the best quick solutions. That said, chewing gum can’t remove the odor, it can only mask it for a limited period of time.
Similar to water, chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva which can further help in odor removal. If you opt for a gum, make sure it’s sugar-free, as sugar can contribute to tooth decay and other dental problems.
Brush Teeth and Floss
In case you are eating food that contains garlic at home, you should brush your teeth before heading out. When brushing, be sure not to leave the tongue out as some of the odor might reside there.
If you’re a garlic fan and travel a lot, you should always have a travel toothbrush with you. That way, you’ll be able to go to the nearest bathroom and brush your teeth and tongue when you need to.
In addition to the toothbrush, you should also use dental floss. Flossing can further improve the situation by removing those hard-to-reach particles which evade brushing. Not just the garlic breath, regular flossing can keep other dental problems at bay, as well.
Give Tongue Scraper a Try
A tongue scraper can come in very handy when you need to get rid of garlic breath, as it is more efficient at removing bacteria and residual food particles from the tongue than a toothbrush.
It is also recommended to scrape the tongue daily, regardless of your garlic eating habits. That way you’ll be certain you’ve removed the microbes, dead skin cells, and bits of food that might have piled up on the tongue.
Rinse with Mouthwash
If you’re wondering how to get rid of garlic breath when away from home, the good old mouthwash can help. While not able to remove the odor-inducing compounds, a strong peppermint mouthwash can mask the smell until it naturally disappears.
This method is recommended in situations where you can’t use your toothbrush, floss, or tongue scraper. Always carry a travel-sized bottle of a strong mouthwash if you have a custom of eating garlicky food when traveling.
Use Essential Oils
You can also use essential oils to combat garlic breath. If you don’t want to purchase pre-made mixes, you can make your own at home. To do that, mix one teaspoon of carrier oil (such as olive, sweet almond, coconut) and a drop of an essential oil of your choice. Use the mixture the same way you’d use the standard mouthwash. Some of the most popular and effective essential oils include myrrh, eucalyptol, rosemary, and peppermint.
A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Science claims that milk is one of your strongest allies in fighting off garlic breath. It significantly reduces the concentrations of the sulfur-based compounds that give garlic its characteristic smell. Its water content rinses the mouth, while the fat takes care of sulfur. For best results, drink whole milk instead of the fat-free variety.
Have Some Green Tea
If you’re lactose intolerant or just don’t like milk, you can drink a cup of green tea to achieve a similar effect. A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology claims that green tea catechin mouthwash is as effective as antiseptic mouthwash at preventing the formation of plaque.
A joint study published in 2008 by experts from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and Nippon Dental University posits that the combined use of toothpaste and green tea is better at fighting halitosis than mints, chewing gum, and parsley oil.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for a wide range of medical problems, one of which is halitosis. The vinegar is rich in pectin, a substance that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your mouth.
There are three ways to use it. You can dilute one to two tablespoons of vinegar in a glass of water and drink it before eating garlic. You can also drink the mixture after a meal to get rid of bad breath. Finally, you can use the vinegar as a mouthwash. Make sure to consult your doctor before using the vinegar to relieve halitosis, as it is not a scientifically proven method.
Suck on a Lemon
Eating lemon flesh or drinking fresh lemon juice can reduce the intensity and duration of garlic breath, especially from eating crushed garlic. The citric acid in lemon is particularly effective at neutralizing alliinase, one of the three main odor-producing compounds in garlic.
The chlorophyll and polyphenols in parsley are very effective at neutralizing the sulfur compounds found in garlic. Therefore, make sure to add some parsley to garlic-rich meals. Dill, cilantro, basil, mint, and thyme can be used instead of parsley.
Garlic continues to release sulfur compounds in the stomach after eating. From the stomach, the odor-producing compounds can easily reach the lungs and the skin, strengthening the characteristic smell and making it last longer.
In order to deal with garlic-induced halitosis, you should practice good oral hygiene and use a combination of odor-reducing methods and techniques. Make sure not to use methods that might cause allergic reactions or inflammation.