Garlic may be the best way to flavor any meal. Sure, a little salt goes a long way, too, but garlic’s flavor is strong, delicious, and compliments many kinds of cuisine.
But there’s just something that brings a hesitance to popping in a piece of your favorite garlic bread or slathering that chimichurri over your favorite steak.
Garlic smells delicious as part of a recipe but waking up the next day after indulging in a garlic-filled italian feast, we don’t want it lingering on our breath.
We understand the feeling and we’ve got you covered. Read along to find out why pungent smells like garlic can hang out in your mouth for so long, and how you can rid yourself of garlic breath.
Why Does The Smell of Garlic Linger?
Garlic is good for your health, as it is full of antioxidants, and studies show that it may enhance your immune cell function and even help you live longer. (Extra garlic, please!) And we already mentioned how flavorful it is. But why does garlic odor stay on your breath for so long?
Well for starters, garlic is high in sulphur compounds that don’t just affect your mouth. You may have noticed that garlic does not smell while still in the bulb. This is because the insides of garlic must be broken open and exposed to air in order to release the fullness of its scent.
Once chopped and chewed, these smelly compounds move into the bloodstream during digestion, bringing the compounds (and their odor) into the lungs. From there, the garlic smell is able to come back up through the mouth (and even out through the pores) for several hours, sometimes up to a full day.
So, what can you do to improve your breath while still enjoying your favorite garlic-laden foods? Check out these clever tips to find out how to get rid of garlic breath.
How to Get Rid of Garlic Breath
Brush Your Teeth and Floss
Brushing after eating foods high in sugar, starch, and acid is recommended to keep plaque off of your teeth and avoid build-up occurring. In addition to these benefits, brushing can freshen up your breath by washing off any residual foods and their odors. Find a good fluoride toothpaste with a naturally fresh taste and scent to replace the unwanted garlic smell. The best advice for how to thoroughly clean your teeth is to brush twice a day, for at least two minutes each time.
We know you want to scrub off that garlic breath, but make sure not to brush too harshly. Gentle scrubbing will do the trick while keeping your enamel strong and healthy.
Keep in mind that odor-causing bacteria likes to sit under the gumline and between teeth, so flossing can help reduce this and get into the places your toothbrush alone is unable to. In addition to flossing at least once a day, add brushing and flossing as part of an after-garlic routine.
Clean Your Tongue
After eating pungent foods like garlic and onions, and really every time you brush your teeth, it is important that you take a few seconds to clean off your tongue. The amount of odor causing bacteria that can rest on your tongue can be surprising and offensive to your breath. Make sure to complete your brushing routine by using a tongue scraper, or even your regular toothbrush to scrape off that yucky bacteria.
For best results, fill your mouth with some water to assist bacteria in washing away as you clean. Brush or scrape from back to front in a downward motion over the sink. You will know the job is done when no white residue remains. Make this part of your daily brushing ritual to keep fresh breath all the time, not just after eating garlic.
Try Essential Oils
But essential oils can be helpful for your breath on their own. You can make an essential oil mouth rinse for when you don't have time to fully brush.
Make a rinse by using a carrier oil in combination with essential oils and water. These are some of the best for eliminating odor:
Here is how it’s done: Combine a teaspoon of carrier oil with a drop of one of the oils above. Swish around in your mouth for at least 30 seconds to reduce bacteria and improve your breath. Don’t swallow though! Essential oils, even when diluted, can cause some real stomach upset.
Remove the Garlic Stem
You can still enjoy the delicious taste of garlic while reducing the intensity of its odor. Lessen the odorous effect of your garlic by cutting each clove in half during preparation and removing the core. Continue to prepare and cook as usual. This will allow you to subtract unwanted smells without sacrificing flavor.
Pair with the Right Foods
Rather than remove garlic from your diet completely, you can add to it! Pairing garlic-y foods with the right companions may actually help neutralize the odor of the garlic.
Here are some of the foods that are the most helpful for easing bad breath caused by ingesting odorous foods like garlic:
While you may still experience the breath benefits of these foods after cooking, eating them raw will provide you with the best results.
Gargle Baking Soda
You can make a homemade mouthwash with baking-soda, an item you likely have around your house already. Simply combine baking soda and warm water, and gargle for around 30 seconds. This should help rid your mouth of any foul smells that might be hanging on.
Rinse with Mouthwash
If you do not have time to brush with your favorite toothpaste, and you need something a little mintier than baking soda, you can opt for rinsing with a mouthwash for a few moments after eating garlic.
While a strong, fresh-smelling mouth rinse can cover up the smell of garlic, it also washes out any unwanted bacteria, plaque, and particles of food that may be left over on your teeth - and these are all odor-builders too. A mouthwash with chlorine dioxide has shown most effective for getting rid of malodor.
Though using a mouthwash is a quick and easy way to freshen your breath on-the-go, results will be best when used in combination with brushing and flossing.
While this will only provide temporary improvement for your breath, a minty chewing gum can cover unwanted odors in a pinch. Similarly to drinking water, chewing gum can also aid in promoting healthy saliva production, which can help clean the mouth of bacteria, plaque and food particles.
Drink Green Tea
If chewing gum isn’t doing the trick, green tea may be what you need. In addition to the health benefits of drinking green tea, it can help provide relief from bad breath caused by eating foods like garlic. As an added bonus, green tea can help reduce plaque build-up in your mouth, too.
Milk may not be where your mind goes when thinking about reducing odor, but you should give it another thought. A trial on the effect of milk and milk components on the deodorization of diallyl disulfide concluded that “ingesting beverages or foods with high water and/or fat content such as milk may help reduce the malodorous odor in breath after garlic ingestion and mask the garlic flavor during eating”.
You may find that drinking milk after consuming potent foods like garlic or onions is effective at reducing residual garlic breath, but sipping while eating should provide even more odor improvement, so drink up!
Try Apple Cider Vinegar
Another home remedy with anecdotal evidence for its assistance with bad breath is to drink a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar after eating meals with potent ingredients, like garlic. You can drink apple cider vinegar diluted with water, or gargle it on its own before rinsing. It is best to speak with your doctor before trying any such home remedy.
Water is an obvious choice for achieving the task of rinsing unwanted flavors and odors from your mouth. Drink it during and just after eating pungent foods like garlic to help manage odor.
Furthermore, water helps encourage saliva production so that the mouth is able to rinse itself throughout the day. Drink water often to keep your mouth healthy and clean.
You may also add a squirt of lemon to your water, to taste. The bright citrusy scent can help with odor reduction.
Eating garlic may have some consequences for you in the breath department, But the fact that garlic likes to camp out on breath doesn’t outweigh what a great ingredient it is. You can have your garlic and eat it too.
Just try out these tips, and make sure you brush your teeth regularly and thoroughly, flossing and using mouthwash whenever possible. You, and those around you, will be so glad you did!