After a peaceful slumber, you wake up to the annoying sound of your alarm. Irritated, you hit the snooze button and decide to sleep a little longer. The sun isn’t up yet, and work does not start until 8 in the morning.
You yawn. A whiff of foul odor wakes you up from your dreamy trance. You sniff again, wondering where the stinking smell is from, and then it hits you. The smell is from you – your mouth, to be exact.
And it is not something to get embarrassed about because at least 99 percent of people experience that foul odor in the morning, known as morning breath, according to Bad Breath Institute. In fact, up to 80 million people suffer from ever-present bad breath, while millions of Americans have bad breath in limited situations like morning or after eating food with a pungent smell like garlic.
What is Morning Breath?
Morning breath is a form of halitosis or bad breath which typically starts directly in the mouth. It’s normally a result of poor oral hygiene, oral sources like cavities, diseases, or dry mouth syndrome.
Having poor oral hygiene leads to the build-up of plaque, the bacterial film that naturally occurs in the mouth if not regularly removed. Then, the bacteria within the plaque give off an odor that affects the breath. Oral-related problems like periodontal disease, tooth decay, and other mouth infections may also contribute to the occurrence of bad breath.
Additionally, infections in the throat, nose, or lungs, health problems such as diabetes, chronic bronchitis, liver disease, disturbances in the digestive system, postnatal drip, or chronic sinusitis also produce bad breath as a byproduct.
Saliva helps sweep away food particles from the mouth. A lack of saliva increases the risk of dry mouth which can cause bad breath, especially in the morning. Saliva production decreases during sleep, leading to foul odor emitting from the mouth when we wake up.
A dry mouth permits the growth and production of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) like hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan. VSCs, which are produced when the naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth break down the food particles left on the tongue’s surface, along the gum tissue surrounding the teeth, and between the teeth, release a foul odor.
Sleeping habits also affect the frequency of occurrence and intensity of morning breath. Because saliva production naturally slows down when we sleep, sleeping with an open mouth can make the mouth drier, allowing breath-causing bacteria to flourish. In addition to an open mouth, snoring or breathing through the mouth at night also heightens the likelihood of halitosis.
How to Prevent Your Mornings from Smelling Bad
To decrease the chances of suffering from morning breath, it is important to practice good oral hygiene by flossing correctly, developing the habit of brushing your teeth after every meal and before bed, and cleaning your tongue at least once a day. Keeping yourself hydrated will also help in keeping your mouth less dry. A glass of water before bed will clear your mouth of food particles that may have lingered.
Since snoring and an open mouth during sleep contribute to having a drier mouth, sleep on your side rather than on your back is recommended. After all, sleeping on your back is more likely to lead to snoring.
A regular visit to the dentist is advised for teeth cleaning. These visits can help you keep tabs on your bad breath. In addition, you can learn about remedies to combat foul breath from your dentist. If you ask, they’ll have an answer.
6 Tips For Fresher Breath
1. Drink more water
Drinking plenty of water avoids a dry mouth, which in turn, keeps the mouth moist. A moist mouth is best able to wash away excess oral bacteria and food particles. Both bacteria and food particles decaying in the mouth are what particularly cause bad breath in the first place. So, washing these away with water is vital. Smoking cigarettes, vaping, and drinking alcohol also reduce the amount of saliva you have, leading to a dry mouth. So, drink up!
Taking part in oral hygiene is especially important in hopes to gain fresher breath. Even skipping out on even one brushing, flossing, or rinsing session can cause an overgrowth of oral bacteria. Thus, this can leave the breath smelling even fouler. Failing to brush away plaque on the teeth can lead to a harder form of plaque known as tartar. Unfortunately, this is harder to remove and smells worse.
3. Chew sugarless chewing gum
For the times you can’t brush your teeth to freshen your breath, say when you’re at work or at school, opt for minty, sugarless chewing gum. The mint will cover up your bad breath temporarily, and the gum itself will capture oral bacteria and excess food particles that are factors of your bad breath to begin with.
In addition to this, the gum will increase your saliva flow. Saliva itself helps wash away bad breath-causing particles in the mouth. Breath mints and sprays may also work, but they will not provide the same benefit of better saliva flow as chewing gum would.
#4 Avoid bad breath-causing foods, especially garlic and onions
One of the most obvious ways to avoid bad breath is to avoid the foods that cause it. Garlic, onions, and other strong-smelling foods should be avoided if your goal is to have nice breath. Garlic and onion, in particular, contain sulfur. Those same compounds that help fight infections, cancer, and heart disease also produce strong odors that can linger in the mouth and cause bad breath.
#5 Scrap your tongue
Another great way to freshen the breath is to partake in tongue-scraping. Tongue scrapers can be found at virtually any convenience store in the toothbrush aisle. These dental tools are meant to scrape the film off of the tongue that contain a great deal of smelly oral bacteria. In fact, much of your oral bacteria is present on your tongue. Bacteria can linger, breed on your tongue’s surface, transfer to your teeth, and result in cavities and bad breath.
#6 Don’t forget to attend dental checkups at least twice a year
As always, it’s important to attend your dental checkups and cleanings biannually. Through these appointments, your dentist will ensure your overall oral health is up-to-par, so you can continue living a healthy life with fresher breath. Your dentist can also provide additional tips and tricks for proper-smelling breath or provide treatment if you suffer from severe halitosis.