Your alarm shreds the early dawn tranquility, yanking you into consciousness. You slap snooze, roll over and yawn…and out wafts a malodorous cloud of ‘morning breath.’
What is that smell? Why do you have it? And most importantly, how do you get rid of it?
Why Do I Have Morning Breath?
Your mouth is a virtual Petri dish of biology and lifestyle. First the biology: Everyone’s mouth harbors bacteria, both good and bad. We play host for their entire lifecycle – bacteria are born, they eat, produce waste, and die – in our mouths. Icky as it sounds, we need the good bacteria and the bad comes along for the ride.
Your lifestyle can up the ante for bad bacteria when you partake of things such as onions, tobacco, and medications. When all these bacteria are confined to simmer in eight hours of slumber, they combust into bad breath.
So, don’t fret. Funky morning breath is normal. And it’s different than halitosis, which is a chronic bad-breath condition that you cannot remedy with a good brushing and mouthwash.
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Causes of Bad Morning Breath
- Certain foods instigate bad breath more than others – such as onions, garlic, and other spices. You boost your chances of morning odor if you eat these things close to bedtime.
- Dry Mouth
- Saliva – or spit - is your mouth’s natural cleanser and deodorizer. It helps break down bacteria and wash away food particles left behind after eating. Saliva production naturally decreases during sleep, but those with dry mouth experience an even greater reduction in saliva. With less saliva to clean your mouth, the bad stuff will breed.
- Poor Oral Hygiene
- Most of us are aware that brushing twice a day is crucial to good oral care. However, failing to floss – particularly before bed – can leave food particles in your mouth that will add to bad breath. Without diligent brushing and flossing, you set yourself up for bad breath and gum disease.
- Smoking – especially cigarettes – deposit smoke particles in your lungs and throat. And chemicals in tobacco linger in your mouth several hours after just one smoke. Tobacco use also escalates your chances of gum disease. In addition to its own set of dangers, gum disease adds to bad breath.
- Some medications cause dry mouth, and dry mouth, in turn, can bring stinky breathy. Also, certain medications break down in your body, which can leak a foul smell into your mouth.
- Mouth Breathing
- Again, another dry-mouth motivator. But how do you know if you’re breathing through your mouth at night? If you’re waking with an exceptionally dry mouth or tongue, or irritated throat, you’re probably mouth-breathing. Ailments such as clogged sinuses and sleep disorders often inspire mouth-breathing.
How to Get Rid of Bad Morning Breath
A certain degree of morning breath is normal, so you can’t completely halt its development. But you can take measures to minimize its severity and eradicate it once you wake.
- The 2-Minute Minimum
- Brush your teeth for no less than two minutes. Time yourself. Going for a full two minutes washes away more food leftovers than a few quick swipes.
- Floss, Floss, Floss
- Flossing gets what brushing can’t. Brushing removes only 60 percent of food debris. Flossing reaches the other 40 percent. Flossing before bed is exceptionally important, as sleep offers food the opportunity to fester for hours, without beverages and sufficient saliva to flush it away.
- Wash It Away
- Maybe you don’t have time for a good brushing, but still need to freshen up – a vigorous rinse with mouthwash will give you a quick refresher. But opt for sugar-free brands. Sugar feeds stink-causing bacteria, so you can end up with an even yuckier mouth.
- Grab Some Gum
- Chewing gum gets your saliva flowing. But go for sugar-free and mint-flavored – sugar fuels odorous, bad bacteria, and ‘cookies and cream’-flavored gum won’t deliver that fresh, cool breath you’re after.
- Get Your Greens
- Chomp some fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro — their chlorophyll neutralizes odors. Cloves, fennel seeds, and anise also supply antiseptic powers along with fresh breath promotion.
- Drink Up
- If you wake in the night with a dry mouth, keep a glass of water by your bed. A few swigs of water will stir up your saliva and wash away musty breath.
Keeping It Fresh
Now that you know what causes morning breath and how to fight it, you can step up your game to turn that early-morning funk into freshness.
And don’t forget to visit your dentist regularly. If you feel your morning breath is following you throughout the day, your dentist can determine whether other underlying issues or conditions are at play.
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