Health & Fitness | May 12, 2022 7:00 am

The Secret to Squashing Morning Breath

We got the best bad breath prevention routine from a NYC-based DDS

An illustration of a dragon breathing fire
Stop starting your morning like this.
Getty Images/czarny_bez

There are three certainties in life: Death, taxes and morning breath. No matter how much you scrub those pearly whites at night, that familiar foul taste and stench is a consistent wake-up call, one that might even linger throughout the day no matter how hard you tackle it. 

Halitosis (the proper medical term for bad breath), while oftentimes embarrassing, is a universal human experience. According to the Bad Breath Institute (yes, it’s a thing), 35 to 45 percent of people in the world experience some degree of halitosis, and everyone has suffered from some stank breath from time to time. 

Despite its prevalence, bad breath can cause you to feel self-conscious, particularly if you’re active in the dating scene or waking up next to another body in the A.M. But if you’re brushing an adequate number of times each day, especially at night, why do you still get that grimey feeling in your mouth every morning? 

According to Dr. Rob Raimondi, DDS and Co-Founder of One Manhattan Dental, it has something to do with our mouths dehydrating overnight and bacteria taking over.

Halitosis is the result of bacteria in your mouth digesting leftover uncleaned food debris on your teeth, gums and tongue, explains Raimondi. 

“During the day our saliva works to help counteract the bacteria from proliferating as well as aiding in the digestion process of food. But during the night, your salivary glands shut off and your mouth begins to dry. Some people also do not have a proper technique or miss part of a proper oral hygiene regimen. This is when the bacteria takes over. 

Alcohol-containing beverages or mouth rinses, tobacco, mouth breathing and some medications are the most common causes of dehydrating one’s oral tissues, and this can increase the effects of morning breath,” explains Raimondi, adding that eating certain foods like onions and garlic before bed, can make morning breath worse. “Acid reflux can also help to create an environment favorable for bacteria to proliferate.”

Beyond avoiding those bad breath actors, Raimondi shares what your oral routine should look like if you want to prevent your mouth from emitting offensive smells.

Floss, floss, floss! 

Like your dentist has reminded you countless times, Raimondi says it’s “essential to clean between your teeth.”

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Brush for a minimum of 2-3 minutes

“There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but brush all surfaces of your teeth for at least two to three minutes,” he says. Preferably with an electric toothbrush.

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Don’t forget your tongue

“Brush your tongue in one direction with a tongue scraper.” Tongue scraping helps to remove particles including ones that contribute to bad breath from your tongue’s surface.

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Basic Concepts Tongue Scraper

Rinse your mouth with a therapeutic, alcohol-free mouth rinse

“Mouth rinses are divided into two types: therapeutic and cosmetic,” explains Raimondi.

“Therapeutic mouth rinses can improve your overall oral hygiene, and while some over-the-counter products offer primarily ‘cosmetic’ benefits they have no real health benefits. Therapeutic rinses contain anti-bacterial and anti-cariogenic (cavity-fighting) ingredients. Cosmetic mouth rinses have flavoring and work to freshen one’s breath.  These have no therapeutic benefit.  As long as there is not a high alcohol content these are fine to use, but they do not kill the bacteria that cause bad breath—they simply mask it.”

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Listerine Total Care Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash

Start taking an oral probiotic 

“Lastly the best bad breath hack is using oral probiotics which introduce that good, supportive bacteria into your mouth and help prevent the opportunistic, disease-causing bacteria from thriving,” he says.

“The goal is simply for the good bacteria to outnumber the bad bacteria. The probiotics on the market are in a variety of delivery methods, such as lozenges, rinses, toothpaste, chewing gum or tablets. They’re easy to get and have very few side effects—we have tried most ones on the market and the ones we currently like the best are made by TheraBreath and Jarrow.”

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