It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to your significant other or the dentist – morning breath is always a cause for embarrassment.
Aside from poor dental hygiene, morning breath can be caused by other factors such as snoring and chewing gum.
There’s no sure way of preventing morning breath, but according to dentist Dr. Mark Lowenberg, here’s a list of its possible causes and how to avoid it:
- A dry mouth – Our mouth can dry out when we’re sleeping, and this can cause morning breath. If you snore or sleep with an open mouth, this can make your morning breath worse. Saliva, “a watery substance that washes away odor-causing bacteria,” is produced in our mouth in the morning and this helps prevent bad breath. But it’s a different story when we’re asleep. The lack of moisture turns the mouth into a breeding ground for bacteria, which multiply in places without oxygen and causes morning breath.
- Chewing gum before bed – Chewing some gum before you go to bed might make your breath smell worse. Gum contains aspartame, a sweetener substance that odor-causing bacteria feed on. This could have the same effect as sleeping with oral debris. After you eat, bacteria in your mouth feed on the food particles stuck “on your tongue and between your teeth.” The bacteria then “release gases responsible for bad breath” called volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). When you chew gum, bacteria will do the same thing.
- Oral debris/food stuck in your teeth – When food particles get stuck in your teeth overnight, it might make your breath smell bad. The kind of food trapped in your teeth doesn’t matter because your breath will smell bad since it rots in your mouth when you’re asleep.
How to prevent morning breath
Aside from regularly brushing your teeth, here are some tips to help prevent morning breath
- Brush your teeth after every meal and floss. Do this at least twice a day.
- Chew a handful of cloves, fennel seeds, or aniseeds. They possess antiseptic qualities that can fight odor-causing bacteria.
- Chew a piece of lemon or orange rind. Wash the rind thoroughly before you chew it. The citric acid in these fruits will stimulate the salivary glands.
- Chew gum in the morning. Gum and mints can help fight bad breath and “increase salivation.”
- Chew parsley leaves in the morning. Parsley can kill bacteria that cause bad breath because it is rich in chlorophyll, “which is thought to have antibacterial activity.”
- Get regular dental checkups and cleanings.
- Replace your toothbrush every two to three months.
- Snack on a celery or an apple once a day. Celery and apples have a high water content, and they can “increase saliva production by stimulating salivary glands and moisturizing the mouth.” You can also drink water or eat some yogurt, cherries, lettuce, and cucumbers to improve saliva flow. Avoid foods that can make your mouth dry such as coffee, soda, salty nuts, and popcorn. (Related: Bad breath cures revealed: Top 7 ways to overcome severe halitosis for good.)
- Use a tongue scraper (or spoon) every morning to help “decrease the bacteria, fungi, and dead cells” in your mouth that can cause morning breath.
- Use baking soda instead of toothpaste. Brush your teeth with a peroxide and baking soda mixture. Dr. Lowenberg explains that the mixture can kill most odor-causing bacteria.
According to the Mayo Clinic, bad breath can also be a symptom “of an underlying health problem” such as mouth infections, chronic reflux of stomach acids, and metabolic disorders. Consult a healthcare professional to determine if your bad breath is caused by a health condition.