Bad Morning Breath  

Posted by joe

Bad morning breath is something that we all experience, if not every day, at least on some mornings. You wake up, yawn, and realize that your mouth tastes like a garbage can. You know it's imperative to get to the bathroom before interacting with any other human being - a toothbrush and a bottle of mouthwash probably await you there. There's comfort, at least, in knowing that everyone else goes through the same thing and understands the problem. There's comfort also in the fact that, when bad breath occurs only in the morning, it's much easier to deal with than breath odor that persists throughout the day.

Treating morning breath is much easier when you understand what is causing the odor. Like other types of halitosis that originate in the mouth, morning breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth giving off bad smelling gases, called volatile sulfur compounds (VSC). These bacteria are normal inhabitants in the mouth - almost everyone has a few of them. In small numbers they're not a problem; it's when they gain the upper hand that trouble happens. Bad morning breath is a result of bacteria that have multiplied and produced VSC throughout the night.

The morning is a worse time for bad breath because the mouth remains relatively quiet while we are sleeping. The flow of saliva slows down and we don't swallow as much; we aren't eating and drinking so we don't tend to flush the mouth out as much. The tissues of the mouth become drier as a result of all this, and there is a decreased supply of oxygen to the oral cavity and tissues. Bacteria that cause bad morning breath are anaerobes - they do much better in the absence of oxygen, and they are otherwise held in check by saliva, which has antibacterial properties. Treating morning breath requires the reversal of the processes that were happening while we slept: provide oxygen, flush away bacteria, and get the saliva flowing again.

Doctors and dentists recommend good oral hygiene as a starting point for treating morning breath. Brush and floss your teeth, and clean your tongue before going to bed. Rinse the mouth out thoroughly. Upon waking, repeat these steps, particularly if you notice bad morning breath. A good mouth wash may be helpful as well, and to get saliva flowing, specialists recommend sugar free gum. (Don't use gum with sugar in it because not only does this contribute to tooth decay, but sugar supports the growth of the oral bacteria that you are trying to get rid of.) Underlying all good oral hygiene is regular professional care - see you dentist and doctor regularly and deal with any oral health concerns promptly before they become serious and chronic. If you do all this and have a healthy mouth, you should have minimal trouble with bad morning breath.

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