If someone has serious garlic breath, yet they haven't eaten the stuff in months, then what is going on? Several things could be going on, since there are many causes of halitosis that lead to garlic breath (and not all of them have to do with garlic).
Here are some of the usual (and unusual) suspects. For the first two, it may be easiest to simply use an alcohol-free mouthrinse or to brush with a specialty breath freshening toothpaste. And, all fun aside, if you suspect any of the other causes, then see a doctor immediately.
What are the causes of halitosis that lead to garlic breath?
- Garlic. It sounds obvious, but sometimes garlic breath comes from having actually eaten some. If you're convinced that you haven't eaten any lately, then consider the possibility that you unknowingly had some garlic, possibly mixed into a meal.
- Herbal supplements. The garlic oils and extracts used in supplements can leave your mouth super-stinky. If you take dietary supplements, check the label to see if the contain garlic.
- Selenosis. This one's much rarer, and also exceedingly dangerous: Toxic doses of the element selenium can leave a person's breath smelling suspiciously like garlic. For the most part, people with selenosis are exposed to the element in industrial workplaces. In the body, selenium forms dimethylslenide, which smells distinctly like garlic.
- Tellurium poisoning. Another, heavier element, and also quite toxic, tellurium can also give breath a weird, garlicky tinge, according to the journal Patty's Toxicology. What's the reason this element and selenium simulate garlic breath so well? It's simple: They can both be found in the same group on the periodic table as sulfur, which contributes to the smell of actual garlic breath.
- Polonium exposure. This is just a guess. Polonium is also in the same periodic group, but since it's radioactive, we're guessing anyone with polonium breath has bigger things to worry about than halitosis...