Morning Breath: Causes, Effects, and How To Get Rid Of It
What is Morning Breath?
So, you just woke up. You roll over to kiss your partner, and you’re met with the most unpleasant surprise: morning breath. What is it, and how can you treat this condition that seems to afflict everyone each morning?
During sleep, a lack of saliva production causes morning breath (also known as halitosis). Saliva has antibacterial properties, so wash away the bacteria in your mouth when it’s not there. The organic compounds created by these bacteria are what cause bad breath.
What Causes Bad Morning Breath?
Let’s break it down.
First, saliva helps flush out bacteria in your mouth and keep it clean by washing away food particles. During the night, you don’t swallow as often as you do when you’re awake, so your saliva doesn’t have the chance to clear away those particles. When you sleep, your mouth gets dry, and your saliva production goes down. Bacteria can grow more quickly, which causes an unpleasant morning breath smell.
Second, volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) are produced when bacteria in your mouth break down proteins from food particles left behind. The odor released is what we perceive as bad breath.
Third, morning breath can be caused by certain medications such as antihistamines or antidepressants that cause dry mouth—a common side effect of many drugs that slow saliva production.
Fourth, a dry mouth can be caused by a health problem such as diabetes or liver disease because they reduce the ability of the body to produce saliva. This can also cause a condition called xerostomia, resulting in a thick coating on the tongue and a dry feeling in the mouth with no saliva production! A chronic condition like this would require professional treatment from someone specializing in treating patients with oral diseases.
What Are The Effects Of Bad Morning Breath?
Bad breath is the worst. It is unpleasant for the person who suffers from it, but it’s also uncomfortable and embarrassing when we become aware of it in others. More than 98% of people brush their teeth at least once a day. But even if you’re diligent about brushing your teeth before bed, you may still wake up with bad breath—and often worse breath than before falling asleep.
While there are plenty of immediate consequences to having bad breath—people might not want to talk to you, for example—there are a few long-term effects that could be even worse.
- Dry mouth.
Every time you swallow, your mouth produces less saliva. Because saliva has antibacterial properties, a dry mouth is more likely to have bacteria, which means that your breath will smell worse. A dry mouth can also cause bad breath.
- Oral Dehydration
Your body needs plenty of water to function normally. Drinking enough water helps increase saliva production and flush out any extra food particles or other substances at the back of your throat that may be stinking up your breath. When you’re dehydrated, these substances aren’t flushed out, and they rot in the back of your throat, causing smelly breath.
- Discoloration Of The Teeth
In the long run, your teeth can also become discolored by bacteria in your mouth (not just on the surface but under the gum line), which can leave stains on your teeth and make them look yellowed over time.
- Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene habits can cause bad breath. If you don’t take care of your teeth and gums properly, that can cause a buildup of bacteria and food particles, creating a smell in your mouth.
How To Get Rid Of Bad Morning Breath?
- Brush and floss your teeth well before bedtime. This is especially important if you have eaten certain foods that can cause bad breath. (Think garlic, onions, dairy.)
- Use mouthwash—and gargle once more after rinsing. Swish the mouthwash around for as long as you can, paying close attention to the back of your tongue (where bacteria like to grow). Then spit it out—but don’t rinse your mouth with water afterward! Letting the mouthwash sit in your mouth overnight gives it longer to kill off bacteria and freshen your breath while you sleep.
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime. As we mentioned earlier, alcohol dries out your mouth and throat, which increases the bad-breath-causing bacteria population. Instead of having a nightcap before bed, try sipping on water rather—your mouth will stay hydrated and fresh.
- Brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper.
Brushing your teeth is an obvious step in reducing bad breath. Brush for at least two minutes, twice a day. Make sure to brush along the gumlines and between teeth and the areas on top of the teeth where plaque builds up. Pay attention to problem areas such as molars, which collect food particles and bacteria.
Another helpful way to get rid of bad breath is by using a tongue scraper each morning when brushing your teeth. It will do wonders for clearing away plaque and bacteria that stays on the surface of your tongue after you eat or drink sugary or acidic foods or beverage.
In the end, proper oral hygiene is about much more than fresher breath. It’s also about your overall health. Whether you have morning breath or not, if people around you can smell what you’ve been eating, that’s a sign that you need to brush and floss more after each meal. And remember, no one’s perfect—you can’t eliminate morning breath, but with a few simple lifestyle adjustments, the whole world will smell a little sweeter.