December 3, 2022

Morning breath is a stinky—yet incredibly common—problem. As for why it happens in the first place? The amount of saliva in your mouth actually lessens while you sleep, creating a hot bed for the bacteria that causes those pesky morning odors. "Morning breath is primarily a result of dry mouth while sleeping and poor oral hygiene habits—but can also be affected by other causes," says Dr. Silvia Calderon, DDS, of LuxDen. Some other factors that cause morning breath are snoring at night, mouth breathing, tobacco or marijuana smoking, and certain medications, she adds. There is a way, however, to break the cycle. Ahead, Dr. Calderon explains how to stop the stink.
Related: 5 Things Your Teeth and Gums Are Telling You About Your Overall Health
Since we know that bacterial colonization is the cause of bad breath, Dr. Alex Rubinov, a New York City cosmetic dentist says the key is to make sure there's less bacterial growth overall—both at night and in the morning. One way to tackle this is to target an area that is often missed by brushing alone. "I can't emphasize enough the importance of using a tongue scraper [when] you brush your teeth," Rubinov says. "Your tongue harbors a lot of bacteria, and if that isn't cleaned daily, then your morning breath has compounding effects."
You may not realize it, but dehydration can also contribute to morning breath, says Dr. Calderon. "Stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water before and after sleeping, and enough throughout the day," she says. "If you're dehydrated, your body cannot produce enough saliva to naturally combat bad breath." As for how much water you should drink daily for optimal oral health? Dr. Calderon suggests taking your body weight, dividing it by two, and then focusing on getting at least that many ounces a day.
If you use aligners, guards for teeth grinding, or orthodontic retainers at night, Dr. Angelique Freking of Park Slope Dental recommends sleeping with a whiting gel (specifically one formulated for nighttime use) in your tray up to three times a month. "The active ingredient is peroxide, which kills bacteria," she says. "You will notice an obvious difference in the reduction of morning breath—as well as a brightening effect!"
Some cases of morning breath boil down to poor dental health. "While cavities do not directly cause bad breath, they act as reservoirs that harbor bad bacteria that do," says Dr. Nick Ciardiello, a cosmetic dentist and Sensodyne spokesperson. So, if you try all of the aforementioned tips and you're still struggling to fight off this nuisance, cavities may be to blame. "The best way to fight cavities at home is with proper preventive care," he says. "This starts with flossing and brushing twice a day with the correct toothpaste."

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