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Garlic and onions add flavor to meals and can provide health benefits. Unfortunately, both can also cause bad breath, known as halitosis, especially when eaten raw.
The distinctive smell is caused by sulfur-containing chemicals in garlic and onion. The smell can linger on a person’s breath for hours and even overnight, which discourages some people from eating these vegetables.
Luckily, many home remedies can prevent or eliminate bad breath. Below, we describe 12 simple methods.
There is no need to forgo the taste and health benefits of garlic and onions. Try the following tips to avoid bad breath associated with these vegetables.
1. Drink water
Drinking water after meals can wash garlic or onion remnants from the tongue or between the teeth.
It also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps to remove some of the odor-producing bacteria from the mouth.
2. Brush and floss
The bacteria that contribute to bad breath are usually found in plaque on the teeth and underneath the gum line.
Brushing the teeth and flossing after meals can significantly reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth and eliminate other causes of bad breath, including plaque and food particles.
3. Use a tongue scraper
A person will often neglect to brush the tongue and the roof of the mouth, and the back of the tongue is an ideal place for bacteria to collect. An individual may even notice a white film forming on the tongue.
Using a tongue scraper or brush every day can remove dead skin cells, microbes, and tiny particles of food. Continue scraping until there is no residue left on the scraper.
Many pharmacies carry tongue scrapers. They can also be purchased online.
4. Rinse with mouthwash
A strong-smelling mouthwash, such as one containing peppermint, can cover up the smell of garlic or onions on the breath.
Some research suggests that using a mouthwash containing chlorine dioxide is especially effective at removing plaque, bacteria, and tiny food particles.
5. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
Eating fresh produce with or after meals may cover up the smells of garlic and onion.
In one study, researchers reported that eating raw apple or raw lettuce significantly decreased the odor of garlic on the breath.
6. Eat herb leaves
Chewing parsley after eating is an age-old remedy for garlic or onion breath. This herb cleanses the palate and masks unpleasant odors.
7. Try apple cider vinegar
Some people report that drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water before or after meals gets rid of garlic or onion breath.
However, this is not a medically approved method. A person should always check with their doctor before using apple cider vinegar as a home remedy.
8. Have a cup of green tea
Sipping green tea after eating may help to cover up strong odors. One study suggested that green tea eliminated bad breath more effectively than mints, chewing gum, or a product containing parsley oil.
Green tea may have additional oral health benefits. Another study found that a mouthwash containing catechins, which are beneficial compounds in green tea, was able to reduce plaque as effectively as antiseptic mouthwash.
9. Chew gum
Chewing gum with a minty flavor can mask unpleasant odors on the go. It also stimulates saliva production, which can help to wash away bacteria and food particles.
Also, according to the American Dental Association, a person chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal may reduce their risk of tooth decay.
10. Drink milk
Drinking a glass of milk with or after a garlic-heavy meal may reduce the concentration of compounds in the mouth that contain sulfur and cause bad odor.
Research has shown that full-fat milk is better at reducing odor than fat-free milk.
11. Drink lemon water
Lemon juice may help to neutralize the odor of onions or garlic on the breath. Try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (approximately 1 tablespoon) to a glass of water and drinking it after an onion- or garlic-rich meal.
12. Remove the garlic’s core
When preparing a meal, it is possible to reduce the risk of developing garlic breath. Cut each garlic clove in half and remove the stem from the middle of the bulb before adding the bulb to the dish.
Some compounds in onions, garlic, or both, can be responsible for bad breath and even body odor. These include:
- Allicin. When the insides of a garlic bulb are exposed to air, a substance called alliin turns into allicin, which then changes into several sulfur-containing compounds that give garlic its smell.
- Allyl methyl sulfide. This compound is released from both garlic and onions when they are cut. Once eaten, the substance is absorbed into the bloodstream, and emitted through the lungs and skin pores.
- Cysteine sulfoxide. This sulfuric compound in garlic and onions causes an unpleasant odor on the breath almost immediately after the vegetables are eaten.
While bad breath caused by garlic or onions often does not last long, there are several ways to get rid of it. Practicing proper oral hygiene, drinking green tea or milk, eating fresh produce, and masking the smell can help.
What works for one person may not work for another, so try a few different remedies to determine which is the best at getting rid of garlic or onion breath.