Few things kill the mood quite like morning dragon breath (MDB). Whether it’s a sulfurous odor, the stench of sweaty feet, or the deadly spoiled-milk-meets-doggie-diarrhea-combo, a stanky smelling mouth can spell the end of sexy times.
Although few admit (or even realize) they have MDB, nearly all of us have suffered from it at one time or another. That’s because while bad breath can have many causes, including gum disease, tobacco use, and even gastrointestinal issues, it’s most often the result of the very natural process of our salivary glands slowing down as we sleep.
“Saliva is nature’s way of protecting us from bad breath,” explained Dr. Harold Katz, a California-based bacteriologist known as “The Bad Breath Guru.” Healthy saliva, Katz said, contains high concentrations of oxygen, which is the natural enemy of bad breath-causing bacteria. The overnight saliva slowdown, combined with the habit of open-mouth sleeping that many of us are prone to, creates the perfect arid conditions that allow bacteria to multiply. In addition, more than 200 commonly prescribed medications—like antidepressants, heart pills, and painkillers—cause dry mouth as a side effect, said Dr. Kourosh Maddahi, a cosmetic dentist in Beverly Hills. The drier the mouth, the stinkier the maw.
So, aside from chugging mouthwash the minute you arise, what can be done to combat MDB? Katz, Maddahi and three other dentists share their best fresh breath tips.
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Brush and Floss More
Food particles that linger in your mouth overnight become major attractants for bacteria. When the bacteria interacts with these leftovers, it releases the noxious fumes that cause MDB, said Fort Lauderdale-based Dr. April Patterson, D.D.S.
So before you hit the hay, take a good five minutes to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth, dislodging any food remnants that may have accumulated during the day, said Dr. Metz, D.D.S. with Vibrant Dentistry in Mesa, Arizona. And resist the urge to snack or sip anything other than water after you’ve done your due diligence with scrubbing.
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Scrub Your Tongue
Your tongue is the biggest source of odor-causing bacteria, said Metz, and should thus be cleaned regularly. Either brush it with your toothbrush, or, if that’s too gag-inducing for you, invest in a tongue scraper. Put your brush or scraper in the far back in your mouth and pull it forward two to three times. Repeat this routine at least once a day, right after you brush your teeth, to keep MDB-causing bacteria in check.
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