Understanding Morning Breath

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Here’s a mystery – if we floss and brush before we go to bed and settle down to sleep with a fresh mouth every night, why is it that just mere hours later, we wake up with dreaded “morning breath”?

The simple answer is that during the day, saliva works as nature’s mouthwash by washing away bacteria and the volatile sulfur particles that cause bad breath. When we go to sleep, saliva production decreases and our mouth dries out, providing the perfect environment for odor-causing bacteria to thrive.

Bad breath (or “halitosis”, as it’s officially known) can come from a number of different sources such as a dry mouth, bacterial decomposition of food particles in and around your teeth, and foods (such as garlic and cabbage) that contain certain sulfur compounds. Halitosis may also reflect medical conditions, from chronic infections in the lungs to kidney and liver failure. Even dieting and fasting can slow down the stimulation of saliva flow and result in offensive breath, while talking for long periods of time will dry out your mouth with the same result. Most everyday bad breath, however, can be controlled by following these four simple steps:

  1. Floss between your teeth to remove any hidden food particles;
  2. Brush your teeth after every meal, and brush or better yet, scrape your tongue too.  Afterwards gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash that targets VOC’s like Listerine, Breath Rx or Crest Pro Health – up to 50% of the bacteria in your mouth can be found hiding on the surface of your tongue;
  3. Keep your mouth moist with frequent sips of water;
  4. Maintain regular dental checkups so that your dentist can check for periodontal disease – a treatable cause of bad breath – during your routine gum exam.
  5. Eat yogurt! Health bacteria actually helps to minimize the VOC’s that build up on your tongue and eating crunchy toast in the morning can help to clean off the back of your tongue as well to get the area clean that you can’t get to!

Talk to us if your concerns go beyond morning breath. We’d be happy to give you some “fresh” oral hygiene tips.

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