Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a chronic condition of breath with an unpleasant odor. Experiencing bad breath periodically does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from halitosis, however. Some forms of bad breath such as “morning mouth” are generally considered normal and are therefore not regarded as health concerns.
“Everyone has morning breath to some degree,” says Dr. Sally J. Cram, a periodontist and a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. Occasional bad breath in the morning is usually the result of diminished saliva production at night. During the day, saliva regularly washes away decaying food and other sources of odor. But at night, this saliva production is lessened, sometimes causing your mouth to feel dry. In these dryer night conditions, dead cells can more readily adhere to your tongue and the inside surface of your cheeks. Bacteria in the mouth can digest these dead particles and release compounds with a strong, unpleasant odor.
Smokers also experience greater amounts of bad morning breath. Smoking not only causes saliva to dry up, but can also raise your mouth’s temperature, thereby allowing bacteria to breed more rapidly and cause bad breath. Also, some people breathe primarily through their mouths at night, which can exacerbate dry mouth and worsen morning breath.
Morning bad breath can be lessened by flossing and brushing your teeth, tongue, and gums after eating in the evening and by rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash shortly before bed. Additionally, limit alcohol consumption during the day, as alcohol can cause dry mouth. Dentists maintain that drinking large amounts of beer, wine, and hard liquor can cause bad breath for eight to ten hours afterwards. Bad breath can also be lessened by drinking plenty of water daily to encourage adequate saliva production. Morning bad breath will usually clear once the flow of saliva increases, generally after you start to eat breakfast.