How To Get Rid Of Garlic Breath - Facts vs Fiction

The woman of your dreams finally agreed to go to dinner with you at a fancy michelin starred restaurant. However, the entree for the tasting menu had chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and there were no substitutions permitted. What do you do about the garlic breath aftermath that is about to ensue?



We all know that it's difficult enough to get rid of garlic breath on its own but this dish has 40 cloves of garlic! I mean is there even anything you can do at all to at least minimize the malodor coming from your mouth?


This article will explain what the mechanism of garlic breath is and what you can do to potentially get rid of it. We'll debunk some commonly held misconceptions and tell you what really works. Separate out the facts from the myths.



Table of Contents:



The culprit of garlic breath

The smell of garlic breath is a little unforgettable due to its intense pungency. Fortunately, scientists have identified the volatile compounds from within garlic which are responsible for its strong smell.

  • Diallyl disulfide

  • Allyl mercaptan

  • Allyl methyl disulfide

  • Allyl methyl sulfide

  • 2-propenethiol

  • Hydrogen sulfide

  • Limonene


Garlic happens to contain all of the compounds from above. All studies which have been done to reduce the pungency of garlic breath have focused on the ability of said food to neutralize these volatile compounds.



Does brushing your teeth get rid of garlic breath?

It is actually a bit complicated in regards to whether or not brushing your teeth after a meal with garlic can eliminate the malodorous breath. It can temporarily get rid of garlic breath if you brush immediately after your meal but the smell usually returns shortly afterwards and will remain for at least a few hours.


Why brushing your teeth doesn't help

Studies have shown that the unpleasant breath odor from consuming garlic initially originate in the mouth but it moves to the gut. The volatile compounds get absorbed in the gut without being metabolized and then move to the lungs where the odor gets expelled in what you call garlic breath. A second study confirms the initial mouth origin but then subsequently moves to the gut.


Due to the fact that it originates in the mouth that most people find brushing their teeth will temporarily get rid of the smell. It'll make their mouth at least feel fresh for a little while. Unfortunately, a little while later they find the return of the dreaded malodor of garlic.


Therefore, teeth brushing is only a temporary solution for eliminating the smell of garlic from your mouth. Fortunately for you, there are alternative proven ways to help fight this foul odor.




Proven ways to get rid of garlic breath

In addition to brushing your teeth, here are some natural ways to get rid of garlic breath. They mostly work via enzymatic deodorization of the volatile compounds. The good news is that most of these methods involve some type of food that you can easily purchase at your local market.

  • Milk

  • Apples

  • Lemon juice

  • Parsley

  • Spinach

  • Mint leaves

  • Rosemarry

  • Perilla

  • Sage

  • Prunes

  • Basil

  • Burdock

  • Eggplants

  • Some mushrooms


Commonly touted garlic breath remedies but in actuality has ZERO EFFECT:

  • Green tea. This study found that there was no deodorizing effect from green tea.

  • Whey protein. This study states that it is not effective because it has no enzymatic activity to neutralize the volatile compounds.


Efficacy of RAW foods vs cooked or liquefied foods on garlic breath

This particular study found that raw apples, raw lettuce, and raw mint leaves were able to significantly reduce all of the volatiles in garlic breath while in vivo. Their juice counterparts did have some deodorizing effect albeit a lot less.


This means that for maximum effect, you shouldn't drink apple juice but eat the raw apples instead.


Extrapolating upon this, it also brings into question about the efficacy of lemon juice. Drinking lemon flavored beverages are most likely not as effective as eating the lemon directly. However, due to potential for enamel erosion, we would caution against using lemons to eliminate this bad breath. Our recommendation is to stick to apples.



The most effective way to get rid of it

According to this study, rosmarinic acid was the most effective at deodorizing the odor from garlic. This can be found in a lot of herbs and plants:

  • Rosemary

  • Perilla

  • Sage

  • Mint

  • Basil




How to prevent it

The best way to prevent yourself from getting garlic breath is to avoid eating it all together. However, if you enjoy the flavor of it or are unable to avoid it, the second best way that you can reduce the garlic odor if you simply add whole milk to the garlic.


Apparently adding whole milk to the garlic while you cook it will reduce the odor significantly more than if you tried to drink milk afterwards. Whole milk was also more effective than low fat milk because the fat content influences the deodorization.


Last but not least, here are some good practices that can always help fight bad breath:

  • Brushing. Since the odor originates initially in the mouth, you can temporarily freshen your breath by brushing and flossing.

  • Staying hydrated. It is always a good idea to drink lots of water because a dry mouth has been shown to lead to bad breath.

  • Tongue scraper. People often tend to forget to clean their tongue which can harbor a lot of bacteria. It can also pick up staining too if you smoke a lot.

  • Essential oil mouth rinse. You can use any essential oil and turn it into a rinse. They're usually pretty aromatic so they could mask the smell.

  • Hydrogen peroxide rinse. Always effective at reducing bacteria that cause bad breath.

  • Chlorine dioxide mouthwash. A different kind of mouthwash that shares similarity to pool water.



Takeaway

Contrary to what you may think but garlic breath does not come from the mouth. Sure it may have initially originated from the mouth but the malodorous compounds actually get absorbed by the gut, which then moves to the lungs. That is the reason why you can brush your teeth as many times as you want but it'll only leave you feeling fresh for a short while.


Fortunately for you, there are quite a few natural home remedies which can deodorize your mouth. You can try eating raw apples, rosemary, and mint leaves to start. In addition to that, cooking garlic with whole fat milk also seems to reduce the odor.


Nonetheless, even with these ways to cover up the smell, the best way to prevent it is to actually avoid garlic all together. That may be something you should consider if you were on a very important date with your future wife.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!