*I never have “morning breath”. Growing up, my dad (not a dentist but a passionate health-nut and physical therapist) would tell me and my brother that morning breath was a fallacy. It was totally unnecessary, not something everyone had to wake up with every day. He himself was living proof, which my family and I can attest to. So why does anyone have it? Morning breath is a sign of either: poor digestion from an improper diet, or incomplete dental hygiene…or both. Luckily, either/both can be fixed with the following daily habits, in this order (scroll ahead to #10 for the most important tip of all):
Upon waking up
1. Oil pull for 15 minutes Oil pulling involves swishing about 1 teaspoon of coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for approximately 10–20 minutes, before you brush or even rinse your mouth in the morning. The fat in the oil attracts and dissolves the bacteria that naturally grows in your mouth overnight. It has also been shown to whiten teeth as well! (Google it if you don’t believe me. And no, mouthwash is not an alternative, especially if it contains alcohol, which many of them do and makes more problems).
2. Spit out oil, then FLOSS before rinsing or brushing Ideally some of the remaining oil gets pushed in between your teeth and against your gums, by the floss. Get in between every single tooth. Make contact with your gums and slide the floss up and down, and side to side. If this causes your gums to bleed, this means you haven’t been flossing enough. After a few days of consistent flossing, they’ll get tougher and it will actually feel good, like a massage. Flossing is more important than brushing. That is how important flossing is. Flossing removes bits of food that would otherwise stay (and rot) in the tiniest of crevices in between your teeth, wreaking havoc on your gums (and healthy gums have been linked to better brain health).
Floss like you mean it.
My favorite brand lately is Dr. Tung’s which contains no harmful chemicals. Most mainstream floss brands contain PFAs (toxic chemicals) to make it glide more smoothly between teeth (think outdated non-stick cookware)- avoid these!
3. Scrape tongue Buy a tongue scraper (they run about $8) and scrape your tongue. More residue lives on your tongue than you probably realize. Start from as far back towards your throat as is comfortable, and gently pull scraper along the entirety of your tongue. Rinse scraper and repeat as many times as desired.
4. Brush with toothbrush and water, no toothpaste necessary If you brushed with toothpaste the night before, toothpaste won’t feel necessary, especially after completing steps 1–3.
5. Drink a big glass of water (at least 8oz) Drink on an empty stomach, before your first meal of the day. Start your day off right by getting a significant amount of hydration out of the way, first thing in the morning. Water on an empty stomach stimulates the digestive system and replenishes fluids lost over night.
Throughout the day
6. Drink lots of clean, filtered water throughout the day (up to 3 liters or 8–12 cups) A dehydrated body is often a smelly body.
7. Avoid processed foods Avoid products that contain added sugars, refined carbohydrates (e.g. white flour) and vegetable oils (e.g. soy, corn, sunflower, safflower). Refined foods leave teeth more prone to cavities and bacteria growth- and if they can erode your tooth enamel, which is stronger than steel, imagine what it can do to your insides. Stick to single ingredient, fresh foods which can even have cleansing properties.¹
8. Let your last meal of the day be your smallest, and eat it 3+ hours before you plan to lie down for the night. Digestion requires gravity, and lying down to sleep impedes gravity causing digestion to slow or even reverse (a.k.a., heart burn, acid reflux, GERD). Acid in your mouth means acid on your teeth, and trust me, acid neither tastes nor smells good. 9. After your last meal, brush teeth with *safe toothpaste, and floss, again. If a toothpaste has a poison control warning on it, don’t buy it. Not that you’d want to, but, you should be able to swallow your toothpaste without needing to call Poison Control. This is something I learned from Fran Drescher- cancer survivor, activist and one of my personal role models ❤
10. Breathe through your nose — tape your mouth shut if you have to! Mouth breathing might be the most common morning breath culprit, and the easiest to address.² It can also be the cause of several other chronic health issues so pay attention: Our noses are meant to act as filters that not only filter (and warm) the air that we breathe in, but convert oxygen into nitric oxide which improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. If you are a mouth breather (ask your bed-mate or look for signs like dry mouth or a bad taste upon waking), there are many home remedies to try, like mouth taping which I highly recommend. Mouth breathing may be a sign of a more involved problem, like a sinus infection or deviated septum, so if/when you can, see an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist.
*The truth is… I never have morning breath as long as I follow this routine. When I skip it, well, you can imagine what happens. But I don’t ever beat myself up, and neither should you. Just get back to it and move forward. The benefits resurface immediately.
Recommended products: Coconut oil https://www.amazon.com/Viva-Naturals-Organic-Virgin-Coconut/dp/B00DS842HS Tongue Scraper https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LM43DWK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Mouth tape https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DH8OC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Safe Toothpaste https://www.amazon.com/Powersmile-Whitening-Fluoride-Free-Toothpaste-Peppermint/dp/B000YDYWNE/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Jason+toothpaste&qid=1618263453&rdc=1&sr=8-2
Article originally published on Medium.com