What is morning breath?

There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning in the knowledge that you have “morning breath” which can produce a putrid smell on your breath. You turnaround to a loved one then quickly turn back before they realise. While there are some connections between traditional bad breath and morning breath, there are also many specific issues associated with bad breath in the morning.

A survey by the Academy of General Dentistry suggests that up to 80 million Americans suffer from ever present bad breath. There are also millions more who suffer from temporary bad breath which takes in the likes of morning breath.

Lack of salivaLack of saliva

While there are many different issues to take into account when looking at bad breath in the morning, there is one specific issue which is central to this problem. A lack of saliva while sleeping means that less food particles are “swept away” leaving them to linger and collect bacteria within your mouth. Reduced levels of saliva lead to what is known as “dry mouth” which can be a breeding ground for bacteria which then produces what we know as volatile sulphur compounds which basically create bad breath in the morning.

Those who breathe through their mouth while sleeping, or sleep with their mouths open, are more likely to suffer from dry mouth and as a consequence morning breath. No matter how often or how hard you brush your teeth during the day there will always be proteins, compounds, elements of food and amino acids present in your mouth and stuck between your teeth. In many ways these are the foods which create the volatile sulphur compounds and consequently bad breath odour. In simple terms, any reduction in the amount of saliva in your mouth is directly related to instances of morning breath and the degree of putrid odour.

Additional health implications

While not necessarily a major problem for everyone, doctors have linked oral bacteria to an array of potentially serious health risks. The problem is that the toxins created in your mouth which create the foul odour are released into your bloodstream and can have a significant impact on other parts of your body. Health issues such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and oral cancer to name but a few have been directly linked to the toxins created by bacteria in the mouth.

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Gingivitis and periodontitis are recognised by many dental experts as the more common causes of bad breath and even these have connections to health issues such as heart disease and strokes. In many ways bad breath can act as a warning sign to those who may have other underlying health issues and should not just be seen as an antisocial condition.

Simple ways to prevent morning breath

There is no real method of preventing morning breath but there are ways in which you can reduce its impact and the putrid smell. Flossing, brushing and even scraping your tongue prior to bedtime will reduce the number of food particles lodged within your mouth and therefore reduce the amount of food on which the bacteria can feed. While many people brush their teeth vigourously there are just as many people who ignore their tongues and the fact that they should be cleaned on a regular basis.

risks and benefits of a mouthwashIf you think about it, the amount of food and liquid which goes over your tongue on a daily basis can be significant. In some circumstances this can create a lining on the tongue which can act as a magnet for bacteria while sleeping. Many experts therefore believe it is vital to clean your tongue as often as you clean your teeth whether using a specific tongue scraper or some other implement to scrape off the film which can build up through the day.

Simple bad breath test

We have all tried it, breathing into our hands and trying to catch the odour to see if we have bad breath or morning breath. This very rarely succeeds!

There are two simple tests you can use which will give you an idea as to the health of your breath. If you look towards the back of your tongue you will either see a pink shiny tongue or one which is lined by a thick white film. A pink shiny tongue indicates fresh breath while the thick white film indicates the presence of bacteria and bad breath. If there is a thick white film it is simply a case of using something like a tongue cleaner to remove it.

Some people also use the wrist method to check for bad breath. First of all clean your wrist, and then lick it, leaving the saliva to dry for a few seconds. If you have bad breath you should be able to smell this on your wrist as the saliva dries and the smell from the bacteria rises. Again, this perfectly illustrates how the tongue is a potential haven for bacteria and harmful toxins.

Avoiding the embarrassment of morning breath

The fact is that the vast majority of people will suffer from a degree of morning breath which will be dependent upon their dental hygiene, the way they sleep and any underlying bad breath issues. As we touched on above, there are ways and means of addressing morning breath and while it can take a while for this to wear off, even after brushing your teeth with toothpaste, it is only a temporary condition.

As some of the toxins associated with morning breath have the potential to impact other health conditions it is vital that you maintain a high level of dental hygiene. The release of any toxins into the bloodstream is potentially dangerous and while there is some debate as to whether there are direct links between these toxins and various underlying health conditions, they can’t be helpful. So, while there is no way to eradicate morning breath there are a number of methods you can use to reduce its impact and make you less conscious when you wake up.

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