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Morning Breath: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Morning Breath: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

by Azka Munir · January 28, 2022

Woke up with a strong unpleasant smell in your mouth? That’s probably because you have morning breath.

Unlike halitosis, it may not follow you throughout the day but can worsen your day’s start.

This article discusses how you can get rid of this unpleasant odor, welcoming your day freshly.


How Does Morning Breath Happen?

Your oral hygiene and what you ate last night play a big part in how you smell the next morning.

Other than that, if you already suffer from a dry mouth, halitosis or GERD, that becomes a contributor too.

Lifestyle habits such as using tobacco are also to blame.

morning breath causes

Having Poor Oral Hygiene

Nothing makes teeth weaker than not following a good oral hygiene routine.

After you are done eating all sorts of foods and drinks, there are several stuck food particles in your mouth along with bacteria.

If you do not brush and floss properly, the bacteria are bound to grow and harm your teeth.

As a result, you become susceptible to cavities and gum disease.

A symptom of gum disease and gingivitis is bad breath.

Therefore, you need to clean the plaque every morning and at night in order to have cleaner teeth.

Without brushing then bacteria and food particles will stick to the crevices of your teeth, in the gum tissue and on your tongue.

Bacteria keep metabolizing the food particles resulting in an unpleasant smell in the morning.

Once you already have cavities or gingivitis because of your poor oral hygiene, it becomes even more difficult to clean your mouth thoroughly of bacteria.

The Food You Eat

Had some garlic or onions last night?

Odds are that your mouth still reeks of it at the beginning of the day.

Not only do the food particles break down overnight to release volatile sulfur compounds but also certain foods have their own pungent smell that persists.

These include garlic, spices, onions and coffee.

While it is important to go to sleep while brushing properly, the smell of these food particles may still linger.

So if you want to prevent a morning smell, you need to avoid certain foods.

diseases causing halitosis

Diseases and Lifestyle Habits Causing Morning Breath

Dry Mouth

Suffering from a dry mouth means that your mouth produces much less saliva giving bacteria the opportunity to feed on food particles.

A dry mouth will make your mouth smell regardless of good hygiene and being particular about what you eat.

The lack of saliva does not wash away the food particles.

Hence, the food particles and bacteria accumulate on your tongue and teeth.

From there the bacteria metabolize the food particles releasing volatile sulfur compounds.

While we are sleeping, the saliva production of the mouth naturally drops.

Hence, more VSCs release overnight and you wake up with a strong unpleasant odor.

Other causes of a dry mouth are breathing through your mouth while sleeping, snoring and taking certain medications that worsen it.

GERD or Acid Reflux

Those who suffer from acid reflux or gastrointestinal reflux usually can have a smelly breath in the day.

This is due to the acid washing up from the stomach to the esophagus as you sleep.

Using Tobacco

Smoking can worsen your overall physical health and also your oral health.

Other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco are also bad for oral health but smoking particularly results in halitosis.

Tobacco dries out your mouth.

Therefore, habitual smokers are at risk of getting gum disease.

Since bad breath is a symptom of gum disease, it may follow.

What’s worse, the smoke smell on top of everything.

Usually, people who smoke may be unaware of their bad breath due to the strong smell.

However, it lingers inside.

Even if smokers take care of their oral hygiene like brushing and flossing, not leaving this unhealthy habit will not bring a huge change.

Hence, their only option is to quit to get rid of the unpleasant smell.

Besides other ways of treating it. Find out below!


Treating Morning Breath

Treating a bad smell is easy but requires you to be persistent.

Maintain good oral hygiene as well as habits that will not leave any room for bad breath to develop.

This includes drinking water, brushing teeth and occasionally using mouthwash.

treating morning breath

Your Oral Hygiene is Important

Check out your current dental hygiene practices.

Are you brushing twice a day for full 2 minutes and also flossing daily?

If not, then there’s your problem!

You can get rid of the bad smell in the morning by following a good oral health routine.

It is the long-term solution for improving your breath as well as a quick fix.

Brush your teeth before sleeping and floss between your teeth too.

After that, you may want to rinse your mouth with a mouthwash as an additional step.

Scraping your tongue using a tongue cleaner will clear away the food particles on your tongue that produce volatile sulfur compounds.

After you are done cleaning your teeth, do not eat anything.

This will break down the food particles in your mouth overnight releasing VSCs.

Other than that, if you wear retainers overnight, ensure they are clean and fit well.

Unclean dentures and retainers can cause your breath to smell bad.

Therefore, you should also remove your dentures at night and clean them properly before wearing them again the other day.

Another important aspect of oral hygiene and usually neglected one is going to the dentist.

You may take good care of your oral hygiene but still, have underlying dental problems without your knowledge.

In that case, go to your dentist every 6 months especially if you have lifestyle habits such as smoking.

That in any case, you should quit.

Besides, going to the dentist will keep your teeth clean and prevent problems that can result over time.

So go to your dentist often and maintain your oral hygiene.

What’s more, incorporate some lifestyle habits so that you can reduce the extent of the smell in case it is chronic.

bad breath at day

Incorporating Lifestyle Changes

Drinking more water can help reduce VSCs.

Having a glass of water first thing in the morning reduces the volatile sulfur compounds by 30 to 50 percent.

In fact, only rinsing your mouth with water can make a change too.

As you increase your water intake, also aim to reduce your coffee and tea intake.

While water is moistening your mouth, these drinks are drying it out.

Therefore reducing alcohol and caffeine intake goes hand in hand with increasing water intake.

You may find out that it greatly affects your breath and gets rid of the smell.

Actually, water helps to keeps the saliva flowing in your mouth.

By preventing it from drying out, water and saliva get rid of bacteria and stuck food particles.

Other than that, chewing sugarless chewing gum can work to mask bad breath.

It not only has a pleasant scent to it but also helps to stimulate the flow of saliva washing away food particles and bacteria.

It is helpful when you have a recurrent bad breath that does not go away after the morning.

Moreover, if you have a dry mouth due to certain medications, consult your doctor if you can get a replacement.

On the other hand, patients suffering from GERD can get acid reflux medication.

When the reflux stops, the unpleasant smell will discontinue too.

Also, try to sleep in an upright position so there is no upward movement of the acid.

If you are already suffering from periodontal disease or gingivitis, only a dentist can solve your problem.

Since your breath will smell bad due to it, they will carry out a deep cleaning removing plaque and tartar.

Though you may require surgery if the disease has worsened.

What’s more, quitting smoking or using any tobacco product improves your oral health.


Prevention and Masking

Preventing the smell is similar to treating it.

If you follow a good oral hygiene routine and lifestyle then there will never come a need to treat the unpleasant odor.

Hence, you need to maintain good practices and habits.


For Prevention

  • Drink plenty of water: When you sleep, the salivary flow stops. Hence, drinking water throughout the day and especially before sleeping helps to keep your mouth moist preventing it from drying out and causing a bad smell. Also, drink after the first thing in the morning.
  • Quit smoking and tobacco use completely: Your mouth will no longer smell foul and you will notice an instant change in your breath.
  • Refrain from eating foods with a strong scent: Put a hold on garlic and onions after lunch. Don’t drink coffee after, noon and eat healthier foods that may mask your breath.


masking stinky smell

For Masking

In order to mask your breath, eat foods such as yogurt, celery, apples and parsley.

This can prevent your breath from stinking if that persists beyond the morning.

Moreover, you can carry mints and chewing gum with you whenever you feel like refreshing your breath.

As you cannot brush your teeth everywhere, at least these can help in masking the smell wherever you go.

However, back home, remember to brush as well as scrape your tongue.

Thoroughly clean your tongue and rinse your mouth with a mouthwash.

In fact, using an antiseptic mouthwash also helps to prevent gingivitis by keeping gums healthy.

That said, there are times when using home remedies and lifestyle changes are not enough.

If you have reached that stage, consult your doctor.


When to Consult Your Dentist

You should be regularly visiting your dentist every 6 months.

However, if your breath starts to smell bad certainly, it can be an indicator for planning another dental visit.

Let’s say, you don’t smoke, and neither do you have a dry mouth.

However, your oral hygiene is sub-par, then there is a chance that the smell is a symptom of gingivitis or gum disease.

Other symptoms such as spitting blood and having a bad taste in the mouth may accompany.

However, if it is not that, then your dentist may recommend you to see another doctor for a second opinion on other physical health problems linked with persistent health problems.

Since it also impacts your mental health making you self-conscious and anxious, visit a psychologist if your condition is getting out of hand.

Concluding Words

A morning breath is curable as long as you find its root cause.

Once you know that, keep up with good oral hygiene and lifestyle practices to live a healthy life.

Also, this is your reminder to drink more water!

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