Morning breath: Causes and how to get rid of it

Morning breath is the term that people commonly use to describe breath that smells bad when a person wakes up. Waking up with morning breath can be unpleasant and it probably isn’t the way you want to greet your partner, or the day. But it’s extremely common, and most people experience it at some point. “Everyone has morning breath to some degree,” says Sally J. Cram, DDS, a periodontist in the Washington, D.C., area and a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association.

Fortunately, it can be treated like all other causes of halitosis (bad breath).

What causes morning breath?

There are a number of different causes of morning breath, but the two biggest causes are dry mouth and bad oral hygiene.

  • Dry mouth

If you have good oral hygiene, dry mouth is most likely to blame. Saliva is responsible for removing the bacteria that can cause bad breath. When we sleep, saliva production decreases significantly. Certain medications can cause dry mouth, making morning breath even worse.

  • Poor oral hygiene and oral infections

Poor oral hygiene is another common cause. Our mouths are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If you’re not brushing or flossing effectively, food particles can get stuck in crevices on the surface on the tongue, between the teeth, or along our gum tissue.

The bacteria in your mouth will break down those food particles, which releases the lovely bad breath come morning time.

Morning breath can be a symptom of periodontal disease, especially if poor oral hygiene goes unchecked. Periodontal disease affects the gums, causing infections in pockets beneath the teeth that can cause strong, persistent halitosis. Periodontal disease – which starts as gingivitis – will need to be treated by your dentist.

Other diseases and conditions that can cause morning breath are tooth decay, mouth sores, sinusitis and rhinitis – which can cause post-nasal discharge and cause you to develop bad breath, tonsillitis, etc.

  • Wearing dental appliances

Not just about braces, orthodontic appliances like dentures and fixed bridges can be difficult to maintain too. But it’s important that you clean them every day as they’re also prime magnets for food particles, which can become lodged in the material.

  • Eating certain foods

What you put into your body can result in morning breath. Eating strong-smelling foods in the evening like garlic or raw onions can cause morning breath the next day, even if you brush your teeth well. This is due to the substances that they released after their breakdown in the stomach that reach the lungs via circulation.

  • Drinking a lot of alcohol

Alcohol lingers on your breath long past last call. In fact, one 2007 study by researchers from Israel found that drinking alcohol was linked to increased rates of halitosis—and this, despite the fact that their subjects had fasted for 12 hours overnight and were also allowed to brush their teeth in the morning. The study authors suspect that not only does booze dry out a person’s mouth, but that a certain odor is triggered when the body metabolizes alcohol.

  • Tobacco

Tobacco use – particularly smoking – is also directly linked to both morning breath and general halitosis. It can dry out your mouth and make you more prone to gum disease. Add the smoke smell on top, and it can be a recipe for potent breath.

  • GERD

People with gastrointestinal reflux (GERD) – also known as acid reflux – may experience bad breath due to stomach acid washing back up in their esophagus when they sleep at night.

What can you do to get rid of morning breath?

Morning breath can be treated, but most people would prefer to avoid it altogether. Morning breath can be prevented and in many cases, it can be treated at home with a combination of better oral care and lifestyle changes.

1. Drink lots of water

This keeps you hydrated, preventing dry mouth and the resulting bad breath.

2. Keeping your mouth clean

It’s imperative to practice good oral hygiene on a regular basis to both prevent and treat morning breath. Maintaining impeccable oral hygiene is both the best quick fix and long-term solution for bad breath of any kind.

  • Brush. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes before you go to bed. Change your toothbrush regularly: Replace your old brush either after every 3-4 months or after its bristles become frayed.
  • Floss. Brushing alone won’t remove the food particles that can become stuck between your teeth and gums. “Flossing is as important as brushing,” says Kimberly Harms, DDS, a dentist in Farmington, Minn., and a spokeswoman for the American Dental Association.
  • Rinse. Mouthwash will get rid of the odor but only temporarily. A quick swish won’t work, you should rinse for about 30 seconds. “The mouth rinse has to be in there long enough to kill the bacteria,” Dr. Harms advises, “Rinse for five to ten seconds, you’re not getting the full effect. The trick is you have to follow directions”.
  • Scrape the tongue. You should also use a tongue scraper to keep your tongue clean. The back of your tongue is another favorite repository for odor-causing bacteria. You’ll notice your breath is fresher in the morning if you brush your tongue before you go to bed.
  • Clean dental appliances. If you wear a retainer or other orthodontic gear, clean it daily.

3. Mind what you eat

Avoid strong-smelling foods at night, like garlic or onion, and skip out on coffee (even decaf) once the afternoon is over. Ultimately, a healthy, well-balanced diet will help your overall health and can reduce morning breath.

4. Stop smoking

Giving up tobacco can improve your breath instantly, day and night.

5. Chew sugar-free gum

Sugar-free gum may also be helpful, especially if you’re on the go and experiencing recurrent bad breath along with morning breath. Sugar-free gum doesn’t give the bacteria in your mouth sugar to thrive on. It can also help to stimulate the flow of saliva and freshen your breath simultaneously.

If you’ve followed all the prevention methods and home treatments and nothing seems to work, make an appointment with your dentist. They can help you determine the cause of your morning breath and identify the best treatment options moving forward. Even if you don’t experience morning breath or bad breath in general, you should still schedule regular dental checkups. See your dentist on a regular basis – generally twice a year – to have your teeth (or dentures) examined and cleaned.

In case your morning breath is strong and persistent, your dentist may need to treat periodontal disease with deep cleanings. This will likely include a scaling and root planning procedure, where your dentist removes plaque and calculus from the teeth and gums. Depending on how advanced the infection is, surgery may be required. For those experiencing bad breath as a result of GERD, your doctor can prescribe acid-reducing medication that you can take at night before you sleep. They also may recommend sleeping in a more upright position to reduce acid in the esophagus.

Source: Health


Stellapharm is one of leading generics pharmaceutical companies and strong producer of anti-viral drugs in Vietnam. The company established in Vietnam in 2000; and focuses on both prescription drugs and non-prescription especially in cardiovascular diseases, antiviral drugs, anti-diabetics drugs, etc. and our products are now used by millions of patients in more than 50 countries worldwide.

The company is globally recognized for its quality through our facilities have been audited and approved by stringent authority like EMA, PMDA, Taiwan GMP, local WHO and others.

Additional information for this article: Stellapharm J.V. Co., Ltd. – Branch 1
A: 40 Tu Do Avenue, Vietnam – Singapore Industrial Park, An Phu Ward, Thuan An City, Binh Duong Province, Vietnam
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