Morning breath: Is it normal?

You may have noticed your breath isn’t the same when you wake up in the morning – it’s likely worse than normal. But is morning breath something to worry about? Not really, says BellaVista Dental Care’s Dr. Rashmi Bhatnagar.

“It’s pretty typical, actually. Your saliva flow decreases as you sleep, and because dry mouth, bacteria is able to proliferate and stay there,” she says. “The bacteria has byproducts, which aren’t really bad, so when you wake up, that’s what you’re smelling.”

As is the case with many topics related to oral health, the extent of morning breath varies from person to person. Those who breathe from the mouth versus through the nasal cavity are more likely to experience morning breath.

“Mouth breathers often have more increased decay, gum inflammation, and what we call halitosis, or bad breath,” she says. “If you’re not a mouth breather, you’ll still have decreased salivary flow, however. But, it’s all patient dependent. Some people still have a pretty consistent saliva flow when sleeping.”

While drinking water is encouraged for overall oral health since it helps wash away bacteria in the mouth, it isn’t necessarily a fix-all, and that’s particularly true for mouth breathers, who are more prone to dry mouth overnight.

Bhatnagar recommends brushing and flossing before bed and first thing in the morning to help cure morning breath, and in more severe cases, notes there are medications that can be taken to help resolve the issue, such as XyliMelts, which are an oral-adhering disc that sticks to the teeth or gums to help relieve persistent dry mouth, and relieves thirst and throat and mouth dryness.

Another way to help decrease morning breath is by monitoring the types of foods eaten before bedtime, since very acidic foods, or those with strong odors can increase the extent of halitosis in the morning.

HED: Five of the worst foods for your teeth

If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to look away now. However, as noted by BellaVista Dental Care’s Dr. Rashmi Bhatnagar, it is important to understand the effects that certain types of food have on overall oral health. Consume the following in moderation, at best, and be sure to brush and floss regularly when consuming any of the following foods.

1. Sticky candy

This is likely a favorite of many. Gummy bears, marshmallows, Sugar Daddies, Hot Tamales – any type of candy that is high in sugar content and has the tendency to stick to the teeth after eating creates a very acidic environment which aids in tooth decay and cavities. Extra emphasis should be places on thorough brushing and flossing after enjoying treats like these.

2. Lollipops

Designed for slow consumption, lollipops and suckers expose the mouth the long periods of sugar in the mouth.

“You’re bathing your teeth in sugar,” says Bhatnagar.

You may not want to give up sweets entirely, but picking something that is in the mouth for a shorter duration will contribute to better oral health.

3. Soda/Energy drinks

“We commonly see increased decay from people who are drinking soda and energy drinks,” says Bhatnagar. “It causes cavities along the gum line, mostly.”

4. Lemon water

Known for its ability to help with digestion, lemon water creates a low pH in the mouth, which is the perfect environment for decay to occur. Every now and again is okay, but frequent drinkers of lemon water may fall victim to cavities over time.

5. Betel Nut

Also known as areca nut, betel nut is common in southeast and south Asia. This seed of the areca palm is often chewed for long periods of time. Not only does it contribute to an unhealthy environment in the mouth, it is known for its links to causing cancer.

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