As embarrassed as we are to admit it, almost everybody wakes up with morning breath — some worse than others. And while poor dental hygiene is to be blamed in most cases, factors like snoring and shockingly enough, chewing gum, can make it even more unbearable.
Dr Mark Lowenberg, partner and cosmetic dentist at Lowenberg, Lituchy and Kantor, told Daily Mail Online: "Only in movies do people kiss each other right after waking up. I never understood that."
But most importantly – bad breath could also be a strong indicator of underlying health issues like mouth infections, stomach acid reflux and even metabolic disorders, says the Mayo Clinic.
Unfortunately, there's no foolproof way to completely prevent morning breath, but experts have revealed that there are ways that can make it way less "potent".
To combat morning breath, it is important to know the factors that cause it mainly. Our mouths are left dry when we sleep – meaning a lack of saliva, which usually washes away odour-causing bacteria. These also thrive in places that completely lack oxygen, and multiply in those conditions.
Having food particles stuck to the teeth boosts funky morning breath, and garlic or strawberry cake are one's absolute enemies when it comes to this. "That food rots while you're asleep," Lowenberg explained. "This can cause bad breath."
Also, chewing gums contain a substance called aspartame, a sweetener that gives odour-causing bacteria something to feed on – something similar to food stuck between the teeth, said Dr Harold Katz, founder of The California Breath Clinics.
But luckily, there are certain steps you can take to reduce morning breath other than just "tooth-cleaning".
1. Parsley right after waking up
Even though it serves as a garnish in dishes, chewing parsley first thing in the morning will kill odour-causing bacteria and freshen up the breath almost immediately, said Lowenberg.
Parsley's high chlorophyll content has antibacterial traits – a theory supported by a 1942 study published in the America Journal of Surgery that concluded chlorophyll kills bacteria that cause foul odours.
Another study, published in the 1980 issue of the American Geriatric Society, found that chlorophyll tablets can control body and faecal odours.
2. Celery or apple once a day
Their high water content increases saliva production by stimulating salivary glands and moisturising the mouth, which prevents it from going completely dry.
Water and yoghurt help the cause too, among other food items like cherries, lettuce and cucumbers, while coffee, soda, salty nuts and popcorn can make it worse.
3. Chew gums only in the morning
While it seems like the easiest way to freshen up breath, since chewing increases salivation, Lowenberg believes it can cause bad breath in the morning if chewed the night before.
So the easiest way to control funky odour is to chew them only in the morning.
4. Use peroxide and baking soda instead of toothpaste
"This kills most bacteria and reduces the chance of waking up with morning breath," Lowenberg said. Peroxide is an antibacterial agent that kills bacteria, according to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics.