What’s the deal with morning breath?

What’s the deal with morning breath?

Do you methodically brush, floss and gargle as directed by your dentist and still wake up with terrible morning breath? You’re not alone.

Just about everyone experiences “morning breath,” or bad breath first thing in the morning. And people with less-than-favorable oral hygiene habits suffer from morning breath worse than those who listen to our dentists.

So here’s what’s happening.

When you sleep, your body produces less saliva than it does during the day, which increases your chances of experiencing dry mouth (especially if you sleep with your mouth open). Saliva removes the bacteria that grows from leftover food particles.

“Morning breath is generally caused by the overgrowth of oral bacteria while we sleep,” says Dr. Amy Martin, a dental specialist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “These bacteria are always present, and they multiply while we sleep when our mouth is drier.”

What can you do about it?

“There is no way to completely stop morning bad breath from forming,” says Dr. Martin, “but good oral hygiene can help prevent tooth and gum disease, which is caused by that same bacteria. Brushing and scraping your tongue with a tongue scraper can help decrease the bacteria in the morning and thus decrease the odor, but it will return regularly at night.”

The American Dental Association recommends creating a healthy daily dental routine consisting of brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least once a day. They also offer the following tips to encourage saliva production:

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.