There are plenty of unpleasant things that can present themselves in the early morning hours, from the obnoxious ring of your alarm clock to feeling like staring at screens in bed or stress kept you up all night. Among the worst things to start your day? Bad morning breath. Since feeling like a fire-breathing dragon is no way for a #girlboss to start the day, we reached out to Dr. Kyle Stanley, a Beverly Hills-based dentist and lecturer at the University of Southern California Ostrow School of Dentistry, to find out what’s exactly to blame for the seemingly unavoidable morning odor. We were shocked to find out that, even though food choices and poor hygiene habits are confirmed as more obvious culprits, there’s one simple thing that stands out among the rest when it comes to bad breath.

woman brushing teeth

It turns out that a simple dry mouth is the WORST offender when it comes to extra awful morning breath. Dr. Stanley tells us that mouths as dry as the desert can be the result of many things, like nasal congestion, a side-effect from medicine, sleeping with your mouth open or simply not drinking enough water. He explained further, telling us exactly why a dry mouth is so problematic, saying “The environment is just right for bacteria to flourish.” Eek!

As gross as it sounds, the good news about this icky fact is that the solution is as simple as keeping your mouth, well, moist. In addition to upping your water intake (aim to drink about half of your body weight in ounces each day), chewing gum can help you salivate. When it comes time to wind down for some shut eye, work on sleeping with your mouth shut by breathing through your nose as you doze off.

To keep things really fresh, brush your teeth at least two times each day for at least five minutes each time and make it a point to floss every evening before bed. Accordingly to Dr. Stanley, scraping your tongue AFTER you brush each morning and night is something that should be an essential part of your routine too. “This is how you can get rid of bad breath-causing bacteria on your tongue that brushing and flossing leaves behind,” he tells us. So while we can’t promise your breath will ever be the most enjoyable part of your morning, these little routine changes will totally make a difference.

Have you conquered bad breath? Tell us what made a difference on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)