What's the Deal With Morning Breath?

Updated August 19, 2016

Morning breath is one of the more unpleasant issues most people have to deal with in their daily life. 

We've probably all been there. You are just waking up to a beautiful morning—there is a soft light seeping through the curtains and you hear the sound of songbirds lightly chirping outside. You roll over and gaze across the bed upon your beautiful loved one, who is also waking from a peaceful slumber. You lean over to plant a good morning kiss, and then it happens: your olfactory sense is assaulted by bad breath of giant proportions coming from your loved one's mouth.

You quickly debate whether to shriek and scurry off like there is a crocodile in the bed, or try to suffer through this unpleasant kiss, hoping your disgust is sufficiently masked by your smile. How, you wonder, can such a beautiful, sweet person emit from their mouth a smell that could be considered a weapon in some countries? 

We all have it

What you fail to realize is that you probably have morning breath too... maybe worse than your partner! No one is going to wake up with breath that smells like peppermint or a bunch of freshly cut roses. 

When you sleep, bacteria that occurs naturally within your mouth has an opportunity to "activate," as opposed to the waking hours of the day when saliva, swallowing, eating, etc. gets rid of a lot of this bacteria before it has a chance to get going.

As you sleep, the bacteria in your mouth attaches itself to residual food particles left on your teeth and tongue. The food particles contain sugar which bacteria love to feed on. Bacteria eat and set up camp in your mouth to try to take over and make you feel ill all while you are fast asleep.

Fast forward eight to ten hours and the bacteria that have been hard at work all night have now created an odor which resides in your lovely dry mouth. When you wake up, you notice the odor when you go to plant a kiss on your spouse. The best way to deal with morning breath is to give your partner the odorific kiss, brush your teeth, and grab a cup of hot, steaming coffee!
Where does it come from?

Where does it come from?

Some people's morning breath is worse than others for a variety of reasons. Obviously, a person's dental hygiene is probably the most common culprit for the severity of one's morning breath. If you do not brush your teeth and floss before bed at night, you are ultimately creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Poor hygiene including not going to the dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings can leave plaque and tartar to build up on your teeth which will cause more. Also, snoring can be a major factor, because the act forces breath in and out of an open mouth, decreasing the amount of saliva, which in turn creates a great environment for the bacteria to prosper.

Snoring dries out both the mouth cavity as well as the nasal passages. Snoring can also close off the airway at times which dries out the mouth even further, causing less saliva and more bacteria production. (Another issue can actually occur..)
Make sure to stay away from foods that increase bad breath such as garlic, onions, milk, and cheese. Also, take a break from medications including antihistamines and antidepressants (if you can) as they also dry you up!  

Another issue can actually occur in an individual's digestive system; acid reflux can contribute to how bad your morning breath is.

How to combat it

Clean your teeth before bed

Proper nighttime oral hygiene is the most basic, but helpful, tool in the fight against morning breath. Brushing and flossing help remove the food particles that the bacteria use as fuel during the night. Make sure you brush your tongue to get to the particles and bacteria that can build up within its surface, particularly towards the back of the tongue. Using a non alcohol-based mouthwash (because alcohol will dry out your mouth) will further break down the food particles, as well.

Keep water by the 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. A swig of water can loosen and pick up some of the offending food particles and bacteria, and the act of swallowing carries them down to the stomach, where stomach acid will take care of the problem.

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.

Though these solutions can help combat the horror of morning breath, they won't do you much good if your teeth are dirty! Make sure to maintain regular visits to your dentist, who will be able to give your teeth and gums a serious cleaning that your toothbrush and floss just can't do.


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