It’s something most are embarrassed to share with their nearest and dearest – let alone their dentist.
But there’s no getting around it: millions of people wake up with bad breath every day – and some far worse than others.
While poor dental hygiene is a culprit, few realize other factors like snoring and chewing gum can make the odor even more unbearable.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a foolproof method of preventing morning breath, but experts have certain tricks to make your smell less potent.
Sometimes it’s what we do during the day – not lack of tooth-cleaning overnight – that causes bad breath, dentists explain
What REALLY causes morning breath? More than you think…
1. YOUR MOUTH IS TOO DRY
When people are asleep their mouth becomes a dry desert, which contributes to morning breath.
Snoring or sleeping with your mouth open can exacerbate the problem.
Saliva is a watery substance that washes away odor-causing bacteria.
During the day, we aren’t plagued with the same morning breath issue quite so much, since good amount of saliva is always being produced.
But that changes dramatically when people are asleep.
That lack of moisture allows a lot odor-causing bacteria — which thrives in places that almost or completely lack oxygen — to multiply.
‘Only in movies do people kiss each other right after waking up,’ Dr Mark Lowenberg, partner and cosmetic dentist at Lowenberg, Lituchy and Kantor, told Daily Mail Online. ‘I never understood that.’
2. FOOD IS STUCK TO YOUR TEETH
Having food particles trapped between teeth overnight also contributes to smelly morning breath.
It doesn’t matter if the person ate garlic or strawberry cake, they will both amount to a funky mouth in the morning.
‘That food rots while you’re asleep,’ Dr Lowenberg explained. ‘This can cause bad breath.’
3. YOU CHEWED GUM BEFORE BED
Chewing gum may seem like a breath-fresher, but it can also contribute to bad breath.
Gum contains aspartame, a sweetener substance that gives odor-causing bacteria something to feed on.
This has the same effect as eating a meal and getting food particles stuck between the teeth, according to Dr Harold Katz, founder of The California Breath Clinics.
‘After you’ve eaten a meal, bacteria in your mouth begin to consume food particles on your tongue and between your teeth,’ wrote Dr Katz. ‘[Then] the bacteria themselves [release gases responsible for bad breath]. Chewing gum accomplishes the same thing.’
So what CAN you do? Dentists offer tips that work ‘better’ than just tooth-cleaning
1. CHEW PARSLEY FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
Parsley is often used as a useless piece of decoration in a meal, but it can be a great ally when it comes to fighting bad breath.
Chowing down on parsley first thing in the morning will kill odor-causing bacteria and freshen bad breath almost immediately, Dr Lowenberg said.
This is because the flowering plant is rich in chlorophyll, which is thought to have antibacterial activity.
In fact, a 1942 study published in the America Journal of Surgery concluded that chlorophyll kills bacteria responsible for foul-smelling odors.
Research published in a 1980 issue of American Geriatric society found chlorophyll tablets helped control body and fecal odors.
So the best thing to do is to have a few parsley leaves within arms reach to cover up bad breath.
2. EAT CELERY OR APPLE ONCE A DAY
Dry mouth contributes to morning breath, but eating celery and apple slices for breakfast can fix that.
These foods have a high water content and can increase saliva production by stimulating salivary glands and moisturizing the mouth.
Water and yogurt is also great options to improve saliva flow.
A 2015 study published in the Interventional Medicine and Applied Science journal concluded yogurt can significantly increase saliva secretion.
Other foods that stimulate salivary glands include cherries, lettuce and cucumbers.
Foods that can exacerbate a dry mouth include coffee, soda, salty nuts and popcorn.
3. CHEW GUM – BUT ONLY IN THE MORNING
Although Dr Katz said chewing gum can contribute to bad breath, it’s also a quick and easy way to mask a funky mouth in the morning.
Chewing gum and mints freshen bad breath and increase salivation.
However, Dr Lowenberg said these mints can contribute to morning breath if chewed the night before.
While it’s an immediate cure to morning breath, it should not be consumed the night before if people want to reduce the risk of morning breath.
4. FORGET TOOTHPASTE – TRY BAKING SODA
Having food trapped between teeth overnight is a common cause of smelly morning breath.
This is because once odor-causing bacteria consume these food particles, it produces volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), the gases responsible for bad breath.
To alleviate this, Dr Lowenberg suggests people brush their teeth the night before with peroxide and baking soda.
‘This kills most bacteria and reduces the chance of waking up with morning,’ Dr Lowenberg said.
According to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, peroxide is an antibacterial agent that kills bacteria.
This make it a perfect match for the odor-causing bacteria that dwell in the mouth.
However, bad breath could also be an indicator of an underlying health problem.
Infections in the mouth, chronic reflux of stomach acids, and metabolic disorders can also cause bad breath, according to Mayo Clinic.