Battling Bad Breath

Battling Bad Breath

Bad breath can be a dreadful thing.  Almost everyone experiences it at one time or another.  Most of the time it is caused by minor things that are within your control, though occasionally it could be a sign of a more serious problem requiring professional help.  As for morning breath, don’t worry – it’s not your fault! Everyone experiences morning breath because it is beyond your control. Below, we will take a look at what causes morning breath, as well as what causes run-of-the-mill bad breath and what you can do to prevent it.

     If your bad breath is caused by something more serious like gum disease or poor digestion, we can help you investigate the root causes and get you onto a good treatment plan.


Why do people get morning breath?

During the day your saliva is hard at work.  It is busy neutralizing and washing away bacteria that cause gum disease.  It is essentially constantly cleansing your mouth. When you go to sleep however, you lie down.  And when you lie down, your salivary glands shut off. Even though your saliva serves a very important purpose, if your salivary glands didn’t shut off you would drown in your sleep.  So it is important that you stop producing saliva when laying down.


Now with a saliva-free environment the bacteria in your mouth start breaking down whatever is left from your last meal.  This process creates what is called volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which cause odour and dryness in the mouth. If you don’t clean your mouth before sleeping the bacteria will have more leftover particles from your last meal to turn into VSCs, which in turn means bad breath.  The situation is even worse if you sleep with your mouth open. If your mouth is open while you sleep the air will dry up any saliva, which means bacteria are left alone to thrive in your mouth. Sleeping with your mouth closed or drinking water before bed can at least compensate somewhat for the loss of saliva.

What else can cause bad breath?

  • Food is the primary cause of bad breath.  Certain foods like garlic, onions and spicy foods can leave an odour that might linger.  Most often the odour is only temporary. But sometimes food can get stuck in the teeth promoting the growth of bacteria that will cause mouth odour.


  • Indigestion or poor digestion due to loss of healthy bacteria in your stomach will create gasses that are unpleasant and float up into the mouth, causing bad breath.


  • Not brushing and flossing regularly will lead to plaque buildup, which can cause odour. Gum disease is also known to cause bad breath and should be treated with the help of a dentist.

How do you prevent bad breath?

There are several things you can do to prevent bad breath.  Here are some of our suggestions:


  1.     Floss and brush more often.  Make sure you brush at least two times per day for two minutes at a time.  Be careful not to overdo it though. Brushing too much or too aggressively could wear down your teeth and gums.


  1.     Wash out your mouth with a good mouthwash.  Don’t just pick one that will freshen your breath – make sure it will kill bacteria as well.  You can also swish some water in your mouth after you eat if there is no mouthwash around. A water rinse immediately after eating will reduce the acidity in the mouth by 60%.


  1.     Scrape your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper.  There is a coating that develops on your tongue that harbours bacteria.  Clearing it away will rid your mouth of the waste that the bacteria creates.


  1.     Avoid certain foods like garlic and onions.  Of course you can’t avoid them all of the time. Just avoid them if you are in a situation where you want your breath to remain fresh.


  1.     Keep your gums healthy to stop bacteria gathering in pockets at the base of your teeth. These pockets are created by gum disease and are known as periodontal pockets or gum pockets.  A dentist can measure your gums for pockets during your check-up.


  1.     Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.  Remember, a dry mouth means no saliva, and no saliva means no protection from the bacteria in your mouth.


  1.     If you have tried everything to keep bad breath at bay, speak to your dentist. There may be more serious problems requiring identification and attention.


As you can see, the quality of your breath is relatively easy to fix.  If your bad breath is caused by something more serious like gum disease or poor digestion, we can help you investigate the root causes and get you on a good treatment plan.  A complete examination by a qualified dental practitioner will allow for a proper diagnosis and thus lead to a solution that is customized to that individual.