Why Do We Have Bad Breaths in the Morning?

Do you ever wake up and instinctively cover your mouth, hoping to shield your partner from the unwelcome surprise of morning breath? It’s a familiar scenario that can cast a shadow over the start of your day. Termed as halitosis, this phenomenon is neither uncommon nor elusive – but rather an ordinary occurrence that has its roots in a simple biological process.

Sally J. Cram, DDS, a respected periodontist and consumer adviser for the American Dental Association, reassures us that morning breath is a universal experience. The underlying cause? During sleep, the mouth tends to dry out, inadvertently giving rise to bacteria that produce unpleasant odors. Dr. Cram elaborates that the nocturnal decrease in saliva flow contributes to this phenomenon. Consequently, the morning period becomes a prime breeding ground for undesirable breath.

Should you snore or breathe through your mouth at night, this common situation could amplify your chances of awakening with less-than-fresh breath. Both scenarios heighten the propensity for mouth dryness, setting the stage for bacterial proliferation.

Morning Bad Breath

Alternative Culprits of Unpleasant Breath

Morning breath isn’t solely a consequence of a dry mouth. Some medications, particularly common among the elderly, can exacerbate the issue by causing overnight mouth dryness. For smokers, the tale isn’t any more favorable. Smoking induces not only a reduction in saliva production, but also elevates oral temperature – an environment tailor-made for the growth of malodorous bacteria. This revelation serves as yet another incentive to consider quitting smoking.

Even allergies can inadvertently contribute to the problem. As postnasal drip becomes a source of sustenance for bacteria, an infection could introduce additional odor-causing agents to the equation.

Effective Remedies for Morning Breath

The silver lining is that bad breath is entirely manageable, even for the majority of Americans who experience it. Employing proper dental care practices can significantly improve this morning occurrence.

Start with brushing – a cornerstone of dental hygiene. The spaces between your teeth and the surface of your tongue are hotspots for odor-producing bacteria. Aim to brush for a minimum of two minutes, a far cry from the often hurried 30 to 40 seconds. Following brushing, resist the urge to eat or drink before bedtime. This minimizes the chance of food particles remaining in your mouth overnight, contributing to the odor.

Tongue hygiene plays a pivotal role. Irwin Smigel, DDS, a distinguished dentist and the president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics, underscores that approximately 85% of bad breath emanates from the tongue. Incorporate tongue brushing into your routine, especially before sleep, to experience fresher morning breath.

Don’t neglect flossing, as it effectively targets the lingering food particles that hide between teeth and gums. Kimberly Harms, DDS, a notable dentist and spokeswoman for the American Dental Association, affirms that flossing’s significance matches that of brushing.

While mouthwash provides temporary relief from the odor, it’s not a definitive solution. Opt for a mouthwash endorsed by the American Dental Association, ensuring its efficacy against bacteria. However, bear in mind that the swishing time matters – adhere to the recommended duration to maximize the desired outcome.


In conclusion, the enigma of morning breath unravels with an understanding of its origin and the implementation of consistent oral care practices. By creating a conducive sleep environment, embracing diligent dental routines, and selecting approved products, you can transform your mornings into a breath of fresh air – both for you and those around you. Your journey to conquering morning breath is within reach, shaping each day with a brighter, fresher perspective.

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