close up of woman covering her mouth with green cloud fumes escaping from behind her hands

As a dentist, I watch what I eat for lunch because no one wants to be seen by a dentist who's had a huge bowl of garlicy pasta right before the appointment. We're also pretty used to patients who come in after chowing down garlic mashed potatoes with a garlic butter sauce and a healthy helping of garlic toast (often with an overtone of some kind of minty madness meant to mask the tell-tale signs of lunch).

It's a fact of life, all types of food get stuck in your teeth but certain foods tend to really stick (literally) while others stick around in the form of bad breath. It is the sulphur compounds in garlic (and onions) that help create the pungent odor that remains. And chances are if what you ate contained garlic it most likely also contained onions.

So what can you do if you've accidentally eaten a garlic-heavy snack or meal before that job interview or before hitting our doors for your dental cleaning appointment?

Here are 6 great ways to help get rid of your garlic breath:

1. Drink Milk

It has been found that drinking milk can help with the deodorization of malodorous breath after garlic ingestion. In other words, drinking milks helps you get rid of your garlic breath. The fat and water content in milk has been found to soak up the allyl methyl sulfide (AMS) gas that dissolves in the blood stream and eventually leads to garlic breath. Evidently it's better to sip milk while eating your garlic heavy snack since drinking milk after didn't help as much as consuming it along with your garlic intake (though it will most likely also affect your enjoyment of the garlic flavor goodness during the meal).

2. Drink water

Drinking water while eating or after eating garlic also goes a long way in reducing bad breath caused by garlic. The water dilutes the blood and as such this reduces the concentration or potency of the AMS gas which in turn eliminates garlic breath. Dry mouth is your enemy if you have garlic breath, drinking water increases saliva flow.

3. Choose foods like apples or fresh herbs like parsley

Foods high in phenolic acid are well known garlic odor reducers. These foods include: basil, apples, spinach and parsley. Parsley has been used since ancient times as a breath odor reducer and it has been found that the polyphenols it contains are responsible for reducing odors. Chewing on a sprig of parsley, especially the stems, really helps.

Other foods rich in polyphenols such as the previously mentioned are also good breath odor reducers. The polyphenols act like antioxidants and oxidize or break down the sulfur compounds in the garlic, which inhibits the release of the AMS gas and eliminates garlic breath.

4. Lemons and limes

Squeezing a freshly cut lemon or lime wedge into a glass of water after eating garlic goes a long way in reducing garlic breath. Be sure to swish and rinse with some plain water following a bit of citric acid, though.

5. Mask it

If you were eating out and don't have access to a toothbrush and paste, chewing sugar free gum or popping a sugar free mint will help mask the odor, which is better than doing nothing.

6. Good oral hygiene for the win!

Good oral hygiene trumps all the other garlic breath reducing methods. If you brush twice daily and floss at least once per day then eating will give an odor but it will not be as pronounced as with those who do not follow this regimen. You will still need to employ one of the above methods to help with eliminating your garlic breath.

From your first visit to the completion of your treatment, at Drews Dental we treat your mouth like it’s our own. With an office in Lewiston that enables us to service Auburn as well, you’ll be sure to receive high quality dental care no matter where you live.

Give us a call today to schedule an appointment (even if you had garlic for lunch)!

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woman in a bathrobe holding a toothbrush worried about brushing her teeth

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