The Unpleasant Truth About Morning Breath

Do you ever wonder why you wake up every morning with bad breath? Even if you brush the recommended two minutes, twice daily and floss regularly, you likely find that your morning breath is less than desireable. While this unpleasant fact is somewhat normal, there are several reasons your halitosis, or bad breath, may be particularly bad. Here’s a look at why we experience morning breath and some steps you can take to improve it.

“Everyone has morning breath to some degree,” said Sally J. Cram, DDS in a recent Everyday Health article. “When you sleep, your normal flow of saliva decreases,” Cram, a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association, explained. “That’s why your breath can be worse in the morning.” When your mouth dries out, odor-producing bacteria proliferate.

If you snore or breathe through your mouth at night, the results are amplified, causing a more unpleasant result. Both situations cause your mouth to dry out even more, setting the stage for bacteria to grow. Some medications can also cause your mouth to become dry overnight, worsening your halitosis. That’s why many older people, who are often on medications, frequently find their halitosis worsening. Smokers also experience worse morning breath. Smoking can cause your saliva to dry up in addition to raising the temperature of your mouth, yet again making it easier for bacteria to thrive. Allergies can also lead to bad breath. The mucus that drips down the back of your throat becomes a food source for bacteria, and if your post nasal drip becomes infected, it can cause make the situation even worse.

If you’re one of the majority of Americans with halitosis, breathe easy because bad breath is treatable. Brushing your teeth helps eliminate odor-causing bacteria that has accumulated between your teeth and on your tongue. Practicing good dental hygiene will do a lot to improve the situation. Be sure to brush immediately before bed, as to ensure you aren’t leaving any food in your mouth overnight. Also, be sure to brush your tongue too. Odor-causing bacteria love to settle on the back of your tongue.

“Eighty-five percent of bad breath comes from the tongue,” said New York dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS, the president and founder of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. “It really helps tremendously to use a tongue cleanser before you go to sleep, or anytime during the day.”

Brushing alone won’t remove all of the food particles that can become stuck between your teeth and gums, making flossing as important as brushing. Adding a mouthwash to your dental hygiene routine will also help. Cram suggests buying a mouthwash to kill the germs that cause bad breath, preferably one with the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. But be sure to follow the directions.

“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.”

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