Why “Morning Breath” Happens: What to Do about It

Have you ever wondered why your mouth tastes and smells bad after a good night’s sleep? –Or why you wake and repel your loved one upon uttering the first words of the day? No matter how diligent your oral hygiene, bad breath happens: What to do about it?

A type of halitosis (the scientific word for bad breath), morning breath is common among a majority of the population. To some extent, everyone experiences morning breath, as this is the natural result when saliva flow slows down during sleep; a dry mouth is a perfect environment for odour-causing bacteria.

Here are the top reasons why morning breath occurs:

Sleeping With the Mouth Open

Mouth-breathing causes saliva to evaporate, which then leads to a dry mouth.

Considered an incorrect way of breathing, mouth breathing has a number of causes. According to Dr. Veronique Benhamou (director of periodontology at McGill University), some children do so out of habit. Others might have improperly positioned teeth or jaw misalignment that prevents their lips from closing during sleep. Dr. Harry Hoediono (president of the Ontario Dental Association) explains that some people might have a skeletal deformity that makes it difficult for them to breathe through their nose.

People who mouth-breathe while they sleep are at higher risk of experiencing halitosis and may have a difficult time addressing the problem, despite proper brushing and flossing.

If you’re uncertain whether or not you breathe through your mouth during sleep, here are some signs to look for:

  • Snoring
  • Hoarseness
  • Waking up tired and irritable
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Dark circles under the eyes

What to do: Before treating the problem, Dr. Benhamou suggests identifying the cause of mouth-breathing before correcting it. If it stems from a structural problem, orthodontic treatment may be the solution. Drinking lots of fluids throughout the day can also help ease dry mouth.

health of your digestive system can influence your breath

Unhealthy Digestive System

The condition of your digestive flora can influence your oral health. An unhealthy gut with an imbalance of good and bad bacteria can make you vulnerable to a number of concerns, including persistent bad breath. (For example, a fishy-smelling breath is reflective of kidney problems, while fruity-smelling breath can be a sign of diabetes.)

The foods you eat can have a positive or negative impact on your digestive system. A diet high in sugar, grains, and processed foods can disturb the balance of good bacteria in your gut. Besides halitosis, over-abundance of bad bacteria in your system can result in:

  • Reduced absorption of important nutrients
  • Slow breakdown of toxins
  • Development of allergies

What to do: Try to decrease your intake of refined carbohydrates, fruit juices, and sodas. Antibiotics, factory-farmed meats, and agricultural produce that is grown with the aid of pesticides can disrupt your digestive flora. Instead, eat more organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and fermented foods to restore the balance of good bacteria.

Unhealthy habits can contribute to morning breath

Poor Oral Hygiene and Lifestyle Habits

Irregular or improper tooth brushing habits can cause morning breath. Excessive drinking is also a culprit, as alcohol kills good bacteria and allows bad bacteria to multiply. Smoking can lead to morning breath as well, due to the chemicals in cigarettes. (Both alcohol and smoking can cause more serious oral health problems like tooth loss and periodontal disease.)

What to do: Brush and floss regularly to keep your mouth clean, fresh, and free from odour-causing substances. (Consult with a professional dentist who can help you learn proper brushing and flossing techniques.) Try to curb your smoking and drinking habits to minimize the occurrence of bad breath. If you want to quit smoking, here are a few tips:

  • Work to condition your mind and body to stop smoking. Set an exact date for quitting.
  • Gather some moral support. Breaking free from a habit can be tough, so it’s best to have a strong support system. Tell your family, friends, your doctor, and your dentist about your plan to quit.
  • Practice and develop behavioral distractions when you feel the urge to light up a cigarette.
  • Get help from the internet. A variety of online resources are available, including community, phone, and text support.

Limit odour-causing foods in your diet

Odour-Causing Foods

If you want to wake up with a fresher breath, avoid eating these foods before going to sleep:

  • Onions, garlic, and spicy foods – These foods are abundant in sulfur compounds that cling to the mouth. (Carry a travel toothbrush and a small fluoride-containing toothpaste to alleviate the smell when on the go.)
  • Coffee – If you’re in the habit of drinking coffee to power up your mornings or combat an afternoon slump, chase it down with a glass or two of water. Caffeinated drinks can slow down saliva production and dry out your mouth. Sip water regularly in between meals to flush out bacteria.
  • Fish – Though rich in protein, eating fish can lead to bad breath. If you can’t brush after your meal, chew sugar-free gum to freshen your mouth and stimulate saliva production. (Increased saliva also helps wash off food particles that might be stuck in between teeth). Splash a drop of vinegar or lemon juice onto your fish before eating it; the acids help to minimize odours.

Add these foods to your diet to help fight bad breath:

  • Naturally acidic foods (such as lemon, grapefruit, and apple cider vinegar).
  • Foods rich in zinc and magnesium, including flaxseeds, kidney beans, and pumpkin seeds. These minerals neutralize sulfur, an odour-causing substance.
  • Fresh herbs like ginger, fennel, parsley, and dill can help mask halitosis. Chewing on a cinnamon stick is also a good option, due to the odour-killing essential oils it contains.
  • Green vegetables like kale and lettuce. Chlorophyll is a natural deodorizer and can aid in eliminating bad breath.
  • Fiber-rich foods (such as carrots, beans, almonds, and lentils).

Say goodbye to smelly breath by practicing the above tips and seeing your dental professional on a regular basis. If you need a reliable dentist in Sarnia, contact the team at Lambton Family Dental. Give us a call today at (519) 344-5747 to schedule a consultation.