By: Dr. Heather Hradek
Good morning, my sleeping beauties! Is your breath not so beautiful upon waking? Did you ever wonder why? It’s not a fun way to start your day, but it’s very common. As it turns out, the most common cause of morning breath is dry mouth and poor oral hygiene.
Even with good oral hygiene, dry mouth can lead to stinky morning breath. Saliva is an important factor to help rinse away the bacteria that can lead to bad breath, and while we sleep, just like many other bodily process slow down, our salivary production decreases. Dry mouth is enhanced if you sleep with your mouth open or are a ‘mouth breather.’ Certain medications that you take before bed may also lead to dry mouth or decrease your salivary flow, which can only enhance the stink factor.
Poor oral hygiene is the other big cause of morning breath. Our mouths are a breeding ground for bacteria so if you don’t brush and floss effectively before bed, those food particles hang out in the crevices in between your teeth, in the grooves on your teeth, or by your gums. Overnight, the bacteria in our mouth have a buffet on what’s left behind and break down those food particles, creating sulfurous byproducts.
If poor oral hygiene is left untreated for a period of time, it can lead to gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums and finally, periodontal disease, where the bacteria causes so much inflammation that the gums and bone surrounding the teeth start to break down. Untreated periodontal disease leads to strong, persistent bad breath that doesn’t go away even with brushing. Periodontal disease requires a professional cleaning to remove the bacteria and buildup underneath the gumline which is causing the bad breath.
Tobacco use is also linked to increased morning breath. The tobacco can increase dry mouth as well as put patients at a higher risk for periodontal disease. Combining these with the stink from the tobacco smoke in the first place is a deadly breath combo.
Patients with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, may also experience bad breath waking up due to stomach acid washing up their esophagus while sleeping. Patients with GERD will need to consult with their primary care doctors to get an acid-reducing prescription and may consider sleeping in a more upright position to prevent the reflux.
To help prevent morning breath, make sure you are brushing with a fluoridated tooth paste before bed. Flossing helps to reach the buildup in between your teeth that tooth brush bristles can’t reach and a tongue scraper can remove buildup on the tongue. Finishing with an antiseptic mouthwash will help kill bacteria left behind and help keep your breath minty fresh. Regular dental cleanings will help to remove the buildup that you’re missing to keep your gums healthy and breath fresh. Drink lots of water, particularly before bed, to help maintain a healthy salivary flow and minimize dry mouth. If you have any oral appliances, a removable partial or a retainer, make sure you are cleaning it daily after removing. If you are a smoker, please consider quitting all tobacco use. The most important thing is to maintain good oral hygiene to both treat and prevent bad morning breath.
Chesterton Family Dental is the general dental office of Dr. Mystie Pieters, Dr. Heather Hradek, and Dr. Robert Pieters providing comprehensive dental care for the entire family.