That pungent garlic-loaded shrimp scampi you ate last night might be a mere memory to you, but your breath does not quickly forget. And though we all want to leave a lasting impression at a new job or on a romantic date, we hope it’s not our breath they remember.
Among garlic’s benefits, its lingering odor is not one of them. When you eat, foods are absorbed into your bloodstream and then travel to your lungs, where food particles are exhaled. That odor does not recede until the foods have passed through your body. Although how long it takes varies for each person, there are things you can do in the meantime to freshen up fast.
Here, five foolproof ways to bust garlicky bad breath for good.
Garlic Breath Fighter No. 1: Toothbrush and Floss
Brush and floss your teeth to get rid of garlic particles that may linger after you’ve eaten. For bad breath, your oral care regimen shouldn’t stop at your teeth. Also pay attention to your tongue, a major source of odor, says Susan Savage, a registered dental hygienist and president of the American Dental Hygienist Association. Due to its pits and crevices, the tongue can harbor smelly bacteria, food debris and dead cells. Use you toothbrush to clean your tongue, especially in the back, where most bacteria like to congregate.
Garlic Breath Fighter No. 2: Fruits and Veggies
No floss on hand? Head to the nearest fruit bowl instead. Carrots, celery and apples aren’t just for better nutrition -- they’re an all-natural way to gently clear the teeth and gums of loose debris. The chewing action scrapes and cleanses the teeth, while massaging the gums (an added bonus), says Dr. Arnold H. Rosencheck, assistant dean of the dental school at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. According to a study published in Food Science and Technology Research, apples and unripe pears are especially helpful in eliminating garlic odor.
Garlic Breath Fighter No. 3: Mouthwash
Savage suggests using minty mouthwashes containing substances like eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate and thymol, which have all been shown to fight bad breath. If you are out of mouthwash and need a solution fast, vigorously rinsing with water can help eliminate those food particles left over from the garlic.
Garlic Breath Fighter No. 4: Milk
You know that milk is good for you thanks to its teeth-strengthening calcium, but here’s another perk: A study in the Journal of Food Science found that milk has a deodorizing effect. “The sulfur in garlic is what causes the problem, and calcium binds the sulfur, neutralizing the odor in your mouth,” explains Duffy MacKay, a naturopathic doctor and the vice president of Science and Regulatory Affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Researchers suggest washing down that garlic-infused meal with a glass of milk -- preferably whole, as its fat content makes it more effective -- to help reduce the concentration of chemicals responsible for garlic’s lingering effect.
Garlic Breath Fighter No. 5: Parsley
Mixing basil or parsley with garlic may help reduce garlic breath, because plant chemicals in these herbs called polyphenols may interact with the sulfur compounds to neutralize the odors in garlic, says registered dietitian Samantha Heller. Chewing a small amount of parsley, which contains chlorophyll, an effective deodorizer, also goes a long way toward combating bad breath, adds Rosencheck.
How do you beat garlic breath? Share in the comments below or @Completely_You