Everything you want to know about morning breath
Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is something that affects many people. Bad breath that occurs after a night’s sleep is often referred to as ‘morning breath’. If you’ve ever woken up with a bad taste on your tongue and a foul odour coming from your mouth, you’ll know what we mean.
While it’s true that morning breath can be embarrassing, you’ll be glad to know that it’s usually easy to prevent. In this blog post, we take a look at how common morning breath is, why it happens and how to prevent it.
Does everyone have bad breath in the morning?
While the exact number of people affected by halitosis is unknown, it’s thought that somewhere between 22 and 50 per cent of the global population suffers from this condition to some degree.
When it comes to bad breath that’s limited to the morning, it’s thought that everyone experiences this problem to some extent or another. This is because the mouth tends to dry up as we sleep, causing the number of odour-producing bacteria in the mouth to increase. This can result in your breath being worse when you wake up in the morning.
If you regularly experience morning breath, it can be comforting to know that you’re not alone. However, there are a variety of factors that can make you more susceptible to morning breath. There are also a number of things you can do to prevent bad breath in the morning. Read on to learn more.
What causes morning breath?
As we’ve stated above, the most common cause of bad breath in the morning is a natural increase in odour-producing bacteria due to a decrease in saliva.
However, some factors can aggravate the problem, such as:
- Poor oral hygiene
Brushing and using interdental products to floss before bed is not just good for your teeth and gums, it can also help to save you the embarrassment and unpleasantness of bad smelling breath when you wake up the next day. If you neglect to brush and floss your teeth properly, you may start to develop gingivitis, which is the early stage of gum disease. One of these symptoms of this condition includes bad breath.
- Certain foods
Eating foods that are spicy or smell strongly before you go to sleep may result in bad breath on waking. The chemicals in foods such as garlic, onion and spices such as turmeric and cumin tend to be absorbed into the bloodstream after digestion. This can result in you breathing out these odours from your lungs.
If you smoke tobacco products, you’ll find that your mouth tends to dry up more. This lack of saliva can lead to a proliferation of bacteria that cause a foul smell. Additionally, smoking increases the temperature of your mouth, which can also cause odour-producing bacteria to multiply.
If you snore, your mouth is even more likely to experience a drop in saliva levels as you sleep. This creates the perfect dry breeding ground for bacteria.
Whether you’re on a crash diet, you’re following an eating plan that involves fasting or you’re following a no-carb or low-carb eating plan, one unexpected side effect of your regime may be bad breath. This kind of bad breath happens as a result of ketosis, which is a process that occurs when your body has insufficient carbohydrates to use for energy and instead burns fat, resulting in the production of a substance known as ketones.
- Certain medications
A variety of medicines, such as certain antidepressants, decongestants and antihistamines, can cause bad breath. You may find that you experience this in the morning or throughout the day.
- Health problems
Serious health problems, such as cancer, diabetes and liver failure, are less common causes of bad breath. If your morning breath is particularly bad and you can’t find a reason for it, it’s worth seeking advice from a health professional to rule out more serious causes.
How to prevent morning breath
As you can see, a variety of factors can contribute to bad breath in the morning so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, if you take the following actions, you may be able to ward off the problem:
- Brush your teeth gently and thoroughly with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day for at least two minutes at a time
- Clean your tongue once per day using a tongue cleaner
- Use interdental cleaning products before bed to ensure food particles are removed from between teeth
- Replace your toothbrush regularly
- Avoid spicy or strong-smelling foods or drinks. If you do consume them, take sugar-free mints or chew sugar-free gum afterwards
- Avoid consuming lots of sugary foods or drinks
- Do not smoke
- Make lifestyle changes to reduce or eliminate snoring. These changes may include losing weight if you’re overweight, sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol, stopping smoking and avoiding sleeping tablets
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Consult a health professional if you are troubled by bad breath due to a medication or if you think your bad breath may be the cause of a serious health condition
- Visit a dentist for check-ups regularly
 Akaji, Ezi A et al. “Halitosis: a review of the literature on its prevalence, impact and control.” Oral health & preventive dentistry vol. 12,4 (2014): 297-304. doi:10.3290/j.ohpd.a33135 Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25525639/