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What Causes Morning Breath?

After a peaceful slumber, you wake up at the sound of your alarm. Irritated, you hit the snooze button and decided to take a longer sleep. The sun isn’t up yet, and work doesn’t start until 8 a.m.

You yawn. But, a whiff of foul odor wakes you up from your dreamy trance. You sniff again, wondering where the stench is coming 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.

On the one hand, up to 80 million people suffer from consistent bad breath. Millions of other Americans have bad breath in limited situations like in the morning or after eating strong-smelling food like onions or garlic.

What Causes Morning Breath?

Morning breath is a form of halitosis which is typically a result of poor oral hygiene, oral diseases or conditions, or dry mouth.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene can cause plaque that naturally occurs in the mouth to build up if not regularly removed. Plaque give off an odor that affects the breath significantly.

Oral Health Conditions and Infections

Oral conditions like gum disease, cavities, and other infections in the mouth may also contribute to the occurrence of bad breath.

Infections in the nasal cavity, throat, or lungs can cause bad breath. Additionally, diabetes, liver disease, chronic bronchitis, disturbances in the digestive system, or postnasal drip can also produce bad breath as a byproduct.

Food Particles

Food particles gathering on the tongue’s surface, along the gum tissue, and between the teeth can lead to bad breath.

Naturally-occurring bacteria in the mouth break down these food particles, however, produce compounds called volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that release a foul odor.

Lack of Saliva and Dry Mouth

Saliva helps sweep away food particles from the mouth.

A lack of saliva increases the likelihood of dry mouth which can cause bad breath, especially in the morning as saliva production decreases during sleep.

A dry mouth allows the growth and production of VSCs like hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan.

Sleeping Habits

Sleeping habits can also affect the intensity and frequency of morning breath.

Because saliva production naturally slows down during sleep, sleeping with an open mouth can cause the mouth to get even drier, allowing more bad breath-causing bacteria to flourish.

Aside from an open mouth, snoring or breathing through the mouth at night also increases the likelihood of halitosis.

How to Prevent Morning Breath

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 more hydrated for the night. 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, sleeping on your side rather than on your back is recommended to avoid snoring.

A regular visit to the dentist is advised for cleaner teeth and the avoidance of future dental problems. A dental professional can also help keep tabs on your bad breath and let you in on possible remedies, if necessary.

How to Get The Best Oral Care

Getting the dental care you deserve relies greatly on the type of dental office attend. Give yourself the give of the best oral health by only opting for highly-recommended dentists.

We at Hawaii Family Dental cater to all your dental needs. Our Honolulu Magazine-recognized best dentists will take care of you and your oral health by providing you a personalized treatment plan that considers your current and future needs.

Call us today for your appointment!

You can also visit us at our 12 locations in Hawaii. We are open with extended weekday and weekend hours.


Date Published: May 24, 2015

Last Updated: January 19, 2018



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