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Morning breath: 3 culprits to avoid

Bad breath, or halitosis, isn't life's most pleasant of subjects, and it's something that all of us would like to avoid. 

While bad breath can occur at any time of day, I'm sure it's not news to you that it is often particularly bad in the morning. From food choices to smoking and the role that bacteria play, there are plenty of evening dental habits that can help you avoid, or at least limit, morning breath.

From avoiding garlic and onions to upping your water intake and brushing your teeth before breakfast, there are plenty of dental habits that can assist you in avoiding the perils of halitosis.

Culprit one: Bacteria

Just like human beings, bacteria require food to survive and create waste in the process. And for some bacteria in our mouths, the waste product is a very smelly sulphur compound, which is often the root cause of a person's bad breath. 

During sleep, the production of saliva decreases significantly, which allows your mouth's bacteria to proliferate. This is because saliva contains enzymes that destroy the smell-creating bacteria. Saliva not only assists in washing away food particles between the teeth that may be feeding the bacteria, but it also prevents the release of sulphur compounds into the air.

All is not lost though, as there are three techniques that you can employ to combat oral bacteria overgrowth.

1.    Look to increase your saliva flow. Make sure to drink lots of water during the day and keep a glass next to your bed to sip on if you wake during the night.
2.    Don't feed the bacteria. The most important time to clean your teeth is just before bed as your mouth's natural defences are weak at night due to low saliva flow.
3.    Brush before breakfast to avoid ingesting all of the bad bacteria that have multiplied in your mouth all night. It sounds gross but brushing before you eat will decrease the likelihood of smelly breath during the day.

Culprit two: Food

The same chemicals that are responsible for the pungent smells that can be found in delicious foods such as garlic, spices and onions, can have the same effect on your breath when you ingest said food. And when these foods (with their strong odours) are digested, they exit the lungs in the form of our breath.

While it may not be the easiest thing to do, if you're looking to avoid food-related halitosis you need to look at excluding certain things. Meals loaded with onions, garlic and spices should be avoided at dinner time where possible, if food-related halitosis is a problem for you.

Culprit three: Smoking

While we can all recognise that smoking is responsible for some awfully bad breath, you may not know that it's not just the chemicals in tobacco that are to blame. The act of smoking causes a dry mouth which creates an environment that allows pungent bacteria to thrive, which in turn leads to bad breath.

I'm sure I don't need to explain that there are plenty more serious reasons not to smoke than bad breath but if that's enough of a motivator to quit I'd be thrilled! From your general to oral health, there really is no safe level of smoking.

Dr David Hills is a dentist and founder of iNEEDaDentist.

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