If there’s one thing on this Earth that, on the face of it, makes no sense whatsoever, it’s morning breath. How could the simple act of breathing in and out for eight hours during sleep cause such a momentous shift in oral aroma?
Well, the simple answer to that is ‘Reduced Saliva Function’, which is a fancy term I’ve decided to coin that basically means when we sleep, our mouth produces a lot less saliva than when we’re awake. Saliva is responsible for getting rid of the bacteria we naturally produce in our mouth, so when it’s in short supply, that bacteria builds up and causes the bad breath we wake up to each day.
Perhaps you’re not that bothered about the secrets to fresh morning breath but for the sake of everyone you have to speak to after having just woken up, read on anyway.
1. Don’t Eat Garlic or Onions
Yes, it’s annoying if you enjoy eating any kind of food because garlic and/or onions can be found in the vast majority of savoury dishes. But if you value fresh breath, you should at least try to avoid them, because the potent sulphur compounds in both foods are absorbed into the bloodstream and released when you exhale. Because of this, no amount of brushing or chewing gum can rid you of the odour, just mask it to an extent.
2. Don’t Skip a Brushing Session Before Bed
Your dentist told you to brush twice daily, right? We know the morning brush is to lather our mouths with minty freshness for the day ahead, but the evening brush is also for more than just your teeth. Without getting rid of the excess food in your mouth before you sleep, the bacteria that causes bad breath during the night has a major head start, and will turn your breath into a noxious gas come sunrise.
3. Don’t Drink Coffee or Alcohol
I know, having good breath is really starting to drag down all that’s fun in life, isn’t it? Both coffee and alcohol create a drying effect in the mouth, reducing saliva production and creating the perfect setting for fragrant bacteria to linger and multiply. A Friday night alcohol binge has the ability to repel anyone and everyone with its resultant morning breath, so maybe it isbetter to leave that one-night-stand at 4 am before you wake up next to them in the early afternoon.
4. Don’t Use Mouthwash After Every Brush
Mouthwash is a double-edged sword in the arsenal of oral hygiene. Sure, it makes your breath smell like mint, but it also dries out your mouth (especially the ones that contain alcohol) and as we already know, that’s no good for keeping bad-smelling bacteria at bay. Using it in the morning is fine as our saliva can omit that dryness relatively quickly, but using it at night will keep your breath fresh for an hour and then serve to increase the rate at which the bacteria multiplies.
5. Don’t Sleep With Your Mouth Open
So this one’s slightly more difficult to fix yourself because we all have our preferred way of sleeping but it will really help. The fast moving air that goes in and out of your mouth (otherwise known as breathing) whilst you’re asleep causes dryness – like a hair dryer – and once again encourages bacteria to settle. Breathing through your nose means that the air skips your mouth and what little saliva there is has a better chance of moving the bacteria away.
6. Try Oil Pulling
Now, I say ‘try’ oil pulling because it might not be the best option for the impatient ones amongst you. This fresh breath method originated in India around 3,000 years ago but the art is simple enough. Take a teaspoon of oil (coconut is recommended but sesame and sunflower work as well) and swish it around your mouth for 20 minutes – yes, that’s 20 minutes. Studies have shown that when the microorganisms in your mouth come into contact with oil, they adhere to it, and so get disposed of when you eventually spit the oil out.
7. Brush Your Tongue
Yup, turns out this little idea wasn’t just created for toothbrush manufacturers to flog us brand new gimmicks. Just like your teeth (and in fact your whole mouth) the tongue is a breeding ground of bacteria that causes bad breath, so if you don’t brush it, they will multiply throughout the day and night. The good news is that a regular old toothbrush is more than capable of getting the job done although brushing too vigorously could damage your taste buds, so be careful!
8. Smell Your Floss
Ok, I know – gross, right? But smelling your floss (after you’ve used it obviously) is a wonderful solution to that age old problem of telling whether you yourself have bad breath. This technique, brought to you by dentist John Woodall, DDS, dictates that if your floss smells bad or there is blood on it, there are foul odours in your mouth. If that is the case, then go through this list until that floss is smelling as fresh as a person with beautifully minty breath.
9. Drink Lots of Water
Water is the perfect on-the-go cleaning agent for your mouth. Either drinking it straight down or swirling it around in your mouth and spitting it out (not recommended in most public and social situations) flushes away the bacteria we’ve learned to hate so mercilessly on this list. Drinking water also encourages the production of saliva, which of course we all know is your most powerful natural cleaning agent that dissolves the bad smelling substances in food and drink.
10. Chew Sugarless Gum
Gum is good for the mouth in two ways: it helps loosen excess food and dead cells from the teeth, gums and tongue, and most of the time it’s laced with some sort of delightful flavour that makes your breath smell terrific (mint being the most effective). Sugarless gum eradicates the downside of having sugar erode your teeth and chewing it even after it’s lost its flavour promotes your mouth’s manufacture of saliva.
Featured photo credit: Joshua Hoffman via photopin.com