We all wake up with bad breath. The AM cup of coffee might mask morning breath, but it’s not exactly freshening things up. Even if you brush your teeth before work, things can start turning foul again well before lunch. And what’s to be made of your post-work breath, should you join friends for Happy Hour, or meet up with a date?
In an ideal world, we’d be brushing our teeth 4 or 5 times a day—wait, no, scratch that—in an ideal world, we’d have fresh breath all the time, despite the food and environment and any genetics working against us. The good news is that you can incorporate a few habits and behaviors into your day to ensure that your mouth stays as fresh as possible, for as long as possible—even allowing you to wake up without such cantankerous breath.
And no, it doesn’t involve brushing your teeth 5 times a day, either. Two or three times, yes—and we’ll start with that tip right off the bat.
Here are our tips for maintaining fresh breath all around the clock—which largely center on fighting dryness and bacteria proliferation (it’s those bacteria, in that dry environment, producing the sulfurous smell on your tongue and in your throat). So these tips aim to counter these conditions.
Oh, and if you’re a smoker, then you already know the biggest solution to better breath (and better life longevity, no less). So we’ll spare you that tip.
1. Brush morning, afternoon, and night
At minimum, you need to brush twice a day—in the morning (after breakfast), and in the evening before bed. The necessity of this for your overall oral health is imperative, but it also significantly neutralizes the odor-causing bacteria that proliferate inside your mouth while you sleep and throughout the day. (While also ridding of the food particles that they feast on). If you can manage a third brushing after lunch, then more power to you.
2. Floss daily
Flossing once a day should suffice—in the evening, before brushing. Again, its benefits reach far past that of having fresh breath, but on the topic specifically, it rids of food bits that become prime targets for bacteria.
3. Stay hydrated (and keep your mouth hydrated, too)
These particular odor-causing bacteria thrive in a dry environment. That’s why your breath is especially rank in the morning—because you likely slept with your open or the room wasn’t humid enough, or you have simply gone 8+ hours without a gulp of water. Staying hydrated benefits all functions of your body, including saliva production and its ability to hydrate the mouth and break down food bits.
On that topic, simply drinking a cup of water before bed (or during the night on any quick bathroom breaks), will significantly improve your morning breath too, by keeping your mouth moist. Ditto for adding a humidifier to your bedroom as you sleep—in cold, dry, and/or arid environments.
4. Finish every meal with a drink of water
To the same tune as the previous tip: Keep your mouth moist. A glass of water at the very end of the meal helps rinse away any lingering food particles and smells, while also boosting saliva production. This in turn breaks down food faster, and prevents the dry environment that odor-causing bacteria love.
5. Use antibacterial, alcohol-free mouthwash
Alcohol-based mouthwash will dry out your mouth, so no matter how good that product smells, it is merely a temporary solution with bigger consequences than benefits. So, choose an alcohol-free mouthwash, and an antibacterial one at that, to kill any critters that are waiting to proliferate in there. Aesop ($25) has a great one that uses antimicrobial botanicals, like anise and mint.
6. Chew gum with xylitol
Xylitol-packed gum should be your only pick, and not just because it freshens breath. It also confuses the metabolic cycle of the bacteria, preventing them from spawning and spreading. So, xylitol gum’s benefits last far longer than when any refreshing scent dwindles. Skip any sugary gum, too, since sugar can dehydrate the mouth.
7. Skip the mints
Mints tend to have sugar, which dries out the mouth and creates a more optimal environment for bacteria, which causes bad breath. So, per the previous tip, swap out the mint for xylitol gum.
8. Be mindful when eating alliums (onions, garlic, shallots, etc)
You know the main culprits of long-lasting bad breath: Garlic. Onions. Shallots. Chives. They are all part of the allium family, and have sulphuric compounds that are absorbed into the bloodstream upon ingestion. After that, the compounds are released through the lungs. (And through your sweat). We’d never tell you to stop cooking without garlic and onions, but maybe be mindful of them if you’ve got a big work meeting at the end of the day.
9. Cut back on coffee and alcohol
Coffee and alcohol both dry out the mouth. And you know what a dry mouth does for sulfur-producing bacteria…
10. Get your Vitamin C and probiotics
Boosting your probiotic intake (like with a daily dose of yogurt) helps the good bacteria in your body fend off the baddies, like the odor-producing ones in your mouth. Similarly, fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C will help neutralize any bacteria in your mouth. So, double down on orange, broccoli, kiwi, tomatoes, papayas, bell peppers, kale, and snow peas.
In related news, read about our first-hand experience with teeth whitening strips.