Why You Get Morning Breath


Hey look, we have all been there. We wake up in the morning and the first person we speak to before being able to brush our teeth snaps their head back in a frantic attempt to get out of the way of our bad breath. The unpleasant smelling oral odour we experience upon rising is so common that it has garnered itself its own name; morning breath.


Why does our breath seem to be its most potent in the morning? Is it due to our sleep or a result of not eating for an extended period of time? Today’s post aims to shed light on why our breath is at its worst when we are trying to start our day.


Why Bad Breath Happens?


Bad breath or halitosis is caused by bacteria in our oral cavity and digestive tract as they break down amino acids and proteins in our foods. Some of these amino acids are chalk full of sulfur, the foul smelling compound that smells eerily similar to rotten eggs. This odour, along with other unpleasant ones that result from the same bacterial breakdown create a symphony of foul smells that combine to create vile morning breath. Scientists estimate that there are more bacteria in our mouth than there are people on Earth, meaning bad breath is a team effort in its truest form.


Why is it Worst in the Morning?


Getting down to the brass tacks of today’s post comes down to understanding what happens to our mouths as we sleep. During the period of rest, the body’s production of saliva slows down significantly as compared to during the day. This is further compounded by the fact that the regular stimuli that aid in saliva production; chewing and speaking also do not occur during sleep. Saliva as you know is our body’s natural means of flushing our mouth of bacteria and maintaining and an optimal pH level.


Another contributing factor is that our jaw and facial muscles relax during sleep. This can lead us to breathe via our mouths rather than our noses. It also allows the tongue to slide towards the back of the mouth, spreading bacteria to drier areas in the back of our mouth and throat. With saliva on snooze, bacteria in our mouth is left to multiply for hours, increasing the effect they have on bad breath.


How to Minimize Morning Breath?


Given that an estimated 95% of all people suffer from morning breath, it is an issue that can be minimized and not necessarily completely eradicated. As always, strong oral hygiene habits are paramount to putting yourself in the best position for good oral health and breath. Brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash before bed should always be your first step. Beyond this, it is paramount to use a tongue scraper as this is where the majority of odour causing bacteria exists in our mouth.


Blowing your nose or using a nasal irrigation system such as a neti pot to clear up the nasal passage is another way to minimize bad breath as it promotes optimal breathing through the nose rather than the mouth. Good hydration throughout the day also ensures that a minimal amount of bacteria is present when you begin your night time oral health regime as outlined above.


Sources: PSU, Gizmodo

Photo: Dr. Civils

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