Woman smelling her partner's morning breath.

One of the worst parts about first waking up in the morning? Sticky, stinky morning breath. Of course, you brush your teeth every night just before bed. And it’s not like you are eating anything throughout the night. So why is it we wake up with less-than-pleasant breath?

If you’re curious about the universal phenomenon known as morning breath, we are here to teach you why we get it and what you might be able to do to improve it.

What Causes Morning Breath?

So, why does morning breath happen? There are several factors at play, some of which might surprise you.

Reduced Saliva Flow

Saliva does a lot for our mouths. In addition to aiding in digestion, one of its jobs is to be our mouth’s natural defense against odor-causing bacteria. A healthy flow of saliva bathes the surfaces of your mouth, washing away these harmful microbes. During the night, however, saliva production significantly decreases, allowing bacteria to flourish. Unchecked, these bacteria produce sulfur compounds, which are responsible for the unpleasant odor we associate with morning breath.

Mouth Breathing

Do you sleep with your mouth open? If so, you might be more prone to morning breath. When you breathe through your mouth, it dries out the oral environment, providing an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

Nighttime Snacking

Late-night snacking is a tempting and common habit, but these snacks can also contribute to morning breath. Eating close to bedtime leaves food particles in your mouth, which bacteria can feed on throughout the night. Make sure to stop eating and drinking each night after you have brushed and flossed (except for water).

Dental Hygiene Habits

Neglecting your dental hygiene routine can also lead to more pronounced morning breath. If you don’t brush and floss before bedtime, you’re allowing bacteria to build up and multiply, increasing the likelihood of waking up with bad breath. Most people underestimate how long they are brushing their teeth. You want to brush for at least two minutes, so set a timer every time you brush, especially before bed!


After a long night’s sleep, your body can become dehydrated. Dehydration reduces saliva production, which, as we mentioned earlier, can contribute to morning breath. Start your day with a glass of water to rehydrate your body and freshen your breath. Track your water intake throughout the day to be sure you are getting enough.

Diet and Medications

Certain foods and medications can influence your morning breath. For instance, spicy foods, garlic, and onions can leave a lasting odor in your mouth. Medications that cause dry mouth can also worsen morning breath.

Medical Conditions

In some cases, morning breath can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Oral infections, gum disease, and tooth decay can often cause halitosis. In addition, conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), respiratory infections, and diabetes can contribute to chronic bad breath. If your morning breath is persistent and accompanied by other symptoms, consult your dentist and doctor.

Conquering Morning Breath

It is nearly impossible to irradicate morning breath completely. But there are ways to improve it. Let’s explore some effective strategies to help you start your day with fresher breath.

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene- The first step in combating morning breath is brushing your teeth thoroughly before bedtime and using dental floss to remove any trapped food particles between your teeth.
  • Hydrate- A healthy intake of water through the day keep your mouth moist and aids in saliva production.
  • Avoid Late-Night Snacking- Try to avoid eating or drinking anything other than water in the hours leading up to bedtime.
  • Consider Using a Tongue Scraper- Bacteria can accumulate on your tongue’s surface, contributing to bad breath. Consider using a tongue scraper to remove this buildup, especially before bedtime.

Consult Your Dentist

If you’re experiencing persistent morning breath despite your best efforts, it’s definitely a good idea to consult your dentist. Contact us today. We can evaluate your oral health, treat any underlying oral health issues at play and recommend additional products.