Saturday, January 10, 2015

Morning Breath ... Is There a "Cure?

This month’s blog concerns a topic I find myself talking about A LOT with patients; morning breath!  What is it?  How do you get it?  How can you prevent it?
Woman with bad breath sticking out tongue which has a sad face on it

   According to the Academy of General Dentistry, over 80 million people suffer from halitosis, aka bad breath.  Several million of these individuals also experience what many refer to as “morning breath”.  Imagine waking up in the morning and leaning over to give someone a kiss, only to be denied.  Morning breath is to blame! 

    In short, morning breath is directly related to the mouth drying out while someone sleeps.  Saliva flow is greatly reduced during prolonged sleep, and when the mouth dries out, odor-causing bacteria are allowed to grow in number.  Those that snore or mouth-breathe at night are even more prone to morning breath. 

    There are other factors that can be involved. Patients who regularly take medications are more prone to having dry mouth.  Smoking not only dries out the mouth, but it also causes an increase in oral temperatures which can then lead to an increased number in odor-causing bacteria.  Patients with allergies might have increased mucus levels, which also leads to a growing number of bacteria that cause bad breath.

    So what can be done?  Good hygiene is key!  Make sure to brush your teeth at least two times daily, for two minutes each time.  Also, make sure to brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper, as many bacteria reside on your tongue.  Flossing is also an important way to remove food that accumulates between teeth and causes bad breath.  Mouthwashes can also be a temporary fix, as they freshen your breath while killing certain bacteria as well.  Just be careful not to use a mouthwash with a high alcohol content, as this might also lead to increased dry mouth.