Readers ask, we answer: Why do I have morning breath?

Morning breath, or halitosis if we want to be formal, is experienced by everyone to some degree. You’re not alone!

While you’re sleeping, your normal flow of saliva slows significantly, and the microorganisms (bacteria included) in your mouth get crazy eating, multiplying and eventually dying. These bacteria live in the mountains and valleys of your gums, your tongue and any other cozy places they can find, and release sulfur compounds. Those compounds are what produces the smelly odor you call morning breath.

What contributes to morning breath?

Snoring or mouth breathing while sleeping dries your mouth

Daily medications like antihistamines or prescribed blood pressure pills can cause dry mouth

Seasonal allergies that result in increased post-nasal drainage — bacteria's favorite food

Cigarette smoking can dry up saliva — your natural mouthwash

Poor dental hygiene can leave food particles in your mouth overnight and cause plaque buildup

Getting rid of morning breath

You can do many things to mitigate bad morning breath like making sure you brush, floss and rinse every day, especially before going to bed. And try not to eat a midnight snack after brushing. You can also gargle with salt water to kill odor-causing bacteria and reduce post-nasal drip.

Make sure you keep your tongue clean. The tongue, especially in the way back, is one of bacteria’s top hiding spots. Brushing your teeth and tongue daily is great, but you can step up your game with a tongue scraper.

Stay hydrated. Water flushes your system of toxins, aids in saliva production and reduces bad bacteria in your mouth. Jump-start your saliva production with a smile-friendly breakfast, including eggs, whole grains and fruit.

Maintain regular preventive visits with your dentist, and if you’re still struggling with morning breath, bring it to their attention. Your dentist can provide additional tips as well as treatments for more severe cases. You should also address mouth-breathing by talking to your physician about potential sleep apnea.

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