How to Prevent Morning Breath

Morning breath is one of the more unpleasant issues most people have to deal with in their daily life. And knowing how to prevent morning breath can make your and your partner’s life much more pleasant.

We've all been there. You’re waking up to a beautiful morning. There’s a soft light seeping through the curtains and you hear the sound of songbirds chirping outside.

You roll over and gaze across the bed upon your beautiful loved one, who’s also just waking from a peaceful slumber. You lean over to plant a good morning kiss, and then it happens:

Bad breath of giant proportions assaults your olfactory senses. And it’s coming from your loved one's mouth.

 How, you wonder, can such a beautiful, sweet person emit from their mouth a smell that could be considered a weapon in some countries?

What Is Morning Breath?

What you fail to realize is that you probably have morning breath too. And maybe it’s even worse than your partner’s! 

The truth is, everybody has morning breath. The medical term for bad breath is halitosis. It’s a common phenomenon. Luckily, it’s easy to treat and prevent. 

What Causes Morning Breath?

When you’re awake, talking, swallowing, and eating keep your mouth in motion. This prevents the bacteria in it from settling. But when you sleep, the bacteria in your mouth has an opportunity to "activate". 

Once things settle down, they attach to residual food particles left on your teeth and tongue. The bacteria set up camp and get working on destroying your teeth. Fast forward 8-10 hours and that very same bacteria now have an odor we call “morning breath”. 

Even though morning breath is identified as that bacteria, there are certain situations that make morning breath even worse.

Poor Oral Hygiene

The most common cause for morning breath is poor oral hygiene. And if you don’t brush your teeth properly, there are more bacteria in your mouth to do damage. However, brushing isn’t the only part of a good dental hygiene routine.

You also need to floss your teeth and scrape your tongue every day. Food particles between your teeth and on your tongue are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.

If you don’t take care of your oral hygiene, you can develop gum disease (periodontal disease). One of the first signs of periodontal disease is bad breath. Left untreated, you can lose your teeth and develop life-threatening illnesses.

So, bad breath won’t be the only uncomfortable consequence of poor oral hygiene.

Dry Mouth

If you have amazing dental hygiene and still have bad morning breath, dry mouth is probably the culprit. Saliva plays an important role in washing away harmful bacteria. However, during the night, our salivary glands function lower. This can lead to a dry mouth, and therefore, more bacteria.

Some medications can also cause dry mouth. And these can make your morning breath worse. 

Another factor that you should consider is snoring. The act of breathing heavily while sleeping quickly dries your mouth out. So, you may want to look for ways to cut down on snoring. (Your partner’s nose and ears will thank you.)

Certain Foods

Sulphuric compounds often contribute to the bacteria of morning breath. Eating certain foods, such as onions or garlic can make your halitosis even worse. Fortunately, getting rid of onion breath isn’t a complicated process. But, you should probably do it before you go to bed.


Smoking affects your oral health significantly. It can cause dry mouth, periodontal disease, and even mouth cancer. Not to mention how bad the smell of cigarettes can be. All of these reasons combined make tobacco one of the worst causes for morning breath.


Gastrointestinal reflux (GERD) is a special situation that can make morning breath worse. People suffering from this condition can have their stomach acid wash back up their esophagus. 

How to Prevent Morning Breath

Now that we identified the most common causes of bad breath, we know how to fight it. Knowing how to prevent morning breath can save you and your partner from uncomfortable mornings.

Preventing morning breath is much better than treating it. Since the cause of morning breath is most likely a medical condition or a poor lifestyle decision, taking steps to prevent it can make you healthier as well. 

That said, preventing morning breath can be a big lifestyle change. Still, it needs to be a regular effort on your part, and keeping that up isn’t easy. But, it’s definitely worth it.

Brush Your Teeth Before Bed

Since poor dental hygiene is the most common cause of bad morning breath, the best thing you can do to prevent it is to brush your teeth before bed.

Ideally, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day: in the morning and the evening. Make flossing and scraping your tongue a part of your oral hygiene routine as well. And using mouthwash can also be beneficial.

Keep Water By Your Bed

Another great defense for a dry, bacteria-friendly mouth is a simple glass of water. Keeping your mouth moist will combat the spread of those smelly bacteria and clear out any loose pieces.

Not to mention how great that water tastes when your mouth is all dry from sleeping. 

Drink Less Alcohol

While you may be more likely to forget to brush your teeth after a few drinks, that's not the only reason to cut back on alcoholic drinks, especially at night. Alcohol can contribute to a dry mouth, creating that breeding ground for those pesky bacteria. 

If you're feeling like a few drinks, try hydrating with water at the same time. This may be a difficult step in preventing morning breath, but it will benefit your health long term.

How to Treat Morning Breath

Now you know how to prevent morning breath. And while these three steps work wonders on the smell of your mouth instantly, you may want to freshen your breath in the morning regardless.

These treatments to bad breath are quick. But without treating the underlying cause, they’re useless long-term.

Brush Your Teeth

Again, the minty freshness of the toothpaste as you brush your teeth will surely eradicate the bad smell. Taking care of your oral hygiene in the morning is just as beneficial for your health. But if you get up and brush your teeth before your partner wakes up, you can prevent them from experiencing your morning breath as well.

Breath Mints

A quicker, but less hygienic solution is to take a breath mint. Just make sure you choose the sugar-free kind. You don’t want to cause more damage to your teeth.

Sugar-Free Chewing Gums

While sugar-free chewing gum isn’t as useful as brushing your teeth, it’s a little bit better than a breath mint. The act of chewing can activate your salivary glands, producing the saliva needed to wash the bacteria away.

Eat or Drink Something

Washing down the bacteria that caused the odor can get rid of the morning breath itself. Worst case, your morning breath will disappear once you have breakfast or a cup of coffee.

Still, it’s not a very good way to treat halitosis if it comes from bad oral hygiene...

Children Can Also Have Bad Breath

Bad breath in children isn't uncommon. If you notice that your toddler's breath rivals a skunk in terms of bad smell, they're not alone. Increasing the oral hygiene routine of toddlers should make it better. Switching toothpaste, avoiding sour foods, and chewing on parsley are also said to help.

Do You Still Have Morning Breath Despite Prevention?

Having bad morning breath despite doing everything to prevent it is a bad sign. Halitosis is often a sign of a serious underlying condition. So, if your morning breath doesn’t disappear within a few weeks of taking preventive steps, you should speak to a dentist.

A lot of people avoid going to the dentist simply because of the cost. But with a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health.

Our dental discount plan can unlock huge savings at participating dentists. Save big on your oral examination when you become a Carefree Dental Card member!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.


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