Oral Health

Start Your Day Fresh: Daily Rituals for Oral Health and Fresh Breath

oral microbiome imagery

Have you ever woken up with bad breath? It’s not only unpleasant, but it can be embarrassing—especially if you need to talk with someone right away. Waking up with bad breath is known as halitosis, and it’s more common than you may think. Bad breath is a common condition that affects approximately 50% of the population at some point in their lives.

Although it may be considered normal, it can actually be a hint or signal that something else is going on in the body or in the oral microbiome. The human mouth is home to a complex and diverse community of microorganisms that form a delicate balance, essential in maintaining oral and systemic health. Fortunately, there are some simple tips that can help reduce the occurrence of morning breath and keep your mouth feeling fresh throughout the day. Let’s look closely at what science says about morning breath and how to prevent it.

....First things first—what actually causes morning breath?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), morning breath is usually caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth overnight. While sleeping, your salivary glands don't produce enough saliva to wash away the bacteria in your mouth, leaving them free to multiply overnight. This bacteria breaks down food particles left behind after eating or drinking during the day and releases volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). VSCs are what create that unpleasant smell associated with morning breath.

Understanding the oral microbiome

It's important to understand how your oral microbiome is connected to your overall health and how it can affect your breath. Your oral microbiome is made up of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live in the mouth. These microbes work together as a “superorganism” that helps regulate oral health and influences the entire body. This connection between the mouth and other organs has been referred to as an "oral gut axis."

Examine the root of your bad breath

Bad breath is caused by the accumulation of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) in the mouth, produced by anaerobic bacteria. These bacteria thrive in the absence of oxygen, typically found in the crevices and grooves of the tongue, as well as in pockets between the teeth and gums. This can impact more than your breath. The oral microbiome can have a significant impact on systemic health. This link is believed to be due to the bidirectional communication between the oral microbiome and the rest of the body through the oral mucosa and the bloodstream.

Make hygiene a habit

To keep your oral microbiome healthy, it is essential to follow a daily oral hygiene routine that includes brushing, flossing, and using a personalized nutrition regimen to support your body’s unique needs. In addition, individuals can adopt daily rituals to promote better oral health and prevent bad breath. Here are a few easy habits that can help reduce the occurrence of morning breath:

Rituals for Optimal Oral Health:

1. Brush your teeth
Brushing your teeth is the most critical step in maintaining oral health. It removes plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums, and helps to prevent the buildup of VSCs. Brush twice daily: Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, preferably after each meal or snack. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes and floss to remove plaque and food particles that can lead to the buildup of VSCs.

2. Drink lots of water
Staying hydrated helps ensure that saliva remains high throughout the night, keeping your oral microbiome healthy and reducing morning breath. Drinking plenty of water also helps remove food particles from between teeth and keeps your gums healthy by preventing dryness in your mouth. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily to keep your mouth hydrated.

3. Avoid certain foods
Certain foods like garlic or onions contain pungent odors that can linger in your mouth after eating them—and other foods like alcohol, coffee, and tobacco can increase the production of VSCs, which means they could contribute to bad breath in the morning. So try limiting these foods before bedtime or brushing thoroughly afterward if you eat them late at night.

4. Manage your stress
Stress can take a toll on your body, and when it comes to oral health, it can lead to bad breath in the morning. High stress levels can impede your body's ability to self-regulate, making it less effective in fighting off opportunistic bacterial invaders that can lead to a bigger physiological problem. Stress can also result in digestive issues and metabolic problems, which could lead to things like acid reflux. This condition can lead to halitosis, as the acid from your stomach reaches your esophagus and the back of your throat.

5. Scrape your tongue
The tongue is a common site for the buildup of VSCs and anaerobic bacteria. Scraping your tongue with a tongue scraper or the back of a toothbrush can help to remove these bacteria and freshen your breath.

6. Take charge of your breathing
Respiratory restrictions such as blocked sinuses and nighttime snoring, etc., can contribute to bad breath in the morning–and are essential to get checked out so you understand the source of the issue. Additionally, seasonal allergies and postnasal drip can also contribute to morning breath.

7. Keep your appliances clean
If you wear a retainer, dentures, or other removable teeth, it's crucial to remove them and clean them every night before going to bed. Neglecting to do so can result in stale, unpleasant odors and introduce new bacteria into your mouth that can contribute to bad morning breath.

8. Gargle away
Start your day on the freshest foot possible by swishing and gargling with water as soon you wake up! This simple step can help eliminate any morning breath from an overnight postnasal drip. Rinsing around your mouth helps clear away mucus that coats the back of the throat, leaving it fresh for a new start!

9. Skip the fad diets
Forget the fads and start eating smarter. A personalized nutrition routine that balances your microbiome in both gut and oral areas can help restore microbial activity for a healthier you. Take charge of your well-being by committing to this life-changing nutritional plan!

Bad breath may be common, but it doesn’t have to be part of our daily lives! With just a few simple changes like brushing twice daily, staying hydrated, and avoiding certain foods before bedtime, we can significantly reduce our risk of developing halitosis on those hectic mornings when we have so much happening already.