Morning Breath: Prevention, Treatment, & Tips

The phone alarm sounds each morning waking you from a restful night's slumber. You rub the sleep from your eyes and prepare to tackle the day. Then you recognize it. That all too familiar taste accompanied by what feels like a film-caked tongue. And you can practically smell the lingering odor emanating from your mouth. Yep, you have morning breath. It's embarrassing but nothing to be ashamed of; everyone's been there before. Here are some prevention and treatment methods if your mouth wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.


Bad breath, also referred to as halitosis, typically originates in the mouth, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Morning breath is simply one form of bad breath. Overnight, food particles gather between teeth, on the tongue's surface, and along the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth. Mouth bacteria break down those particles. The end result is a collection of foul-smelling chemicals.

Common Causes of Morning Breath

Dry mouth is one of the biggest culprits to blame for morning breath, according to Everyday Health. Saliva rids the mouth of bacteria that acts as the trigger for morning breath, and the production of saliva greatly decreases when people sleep so the mouth becomes a feeding ground for bacteria. Other common causes include smoking, a poor diet, oral conditions such as gum disease, and even some medications, notes the ADA.

Prevention and Treatment

Bad breath, whether it occurs in the morning or throughout the day, doesn't have to be a way of life. Try these tips and watch your breath improve.

  • Butt out: Giving up tobacco for good provides a host of health improvements besides keeping your mouth from smelling like an ash tray in the morning.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink water before going to sleep at night. And keep a bottle on your nightstand for if you wake up thirsty.
  • You are what you eat: Avoid eating foods like garlic and onions at night. The same goes for coffee. Trade in that cup of decaf for 8 ounces of water.

If you do find your mouth feeling a bit on the stinky side, brushing your teeth should be the first line of defense. But for those times when you might not have your brush handy, you can use these handy breath fresheners:

  • Mouthwash: Rinsing with Colgate Total ® Mouthwash for Gum Health is an antiseptic mouthwash to keep your gums healthy while protecting against gingivitis, but it also guards against bad breath.
  • Tidy up your tongue: Give your tongue a quick cleaning by carrying a tongue scraper on you.
  • Nature's best: Keep some natural solutions handy – such as parsley, mint leaves or fennel seeds – to chew when needed.

Morning breath is never pleasant to wake up with, but it doesn't have to be a way of life. And that goes for your breath throughout the day. The key to fresh breath starts with focusing on the health of your mouth. That means brushing your teeth at least twice a day followed up with flossing to reach those places the brush doesn't. Don't forget to schedule cleanings with your dentist every six months. He or she can give you additional ideas on how to maintain fresh breath.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Foul-smelling breath, usually caused by the breakdown of food. Other culprits include poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, disease, infection, tobacco use and severe dieting.


Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible causes that include:

  • Food particles from stinky foods like garlic and onions
  • Smoking
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Acid Reflux
  • Poor Oral Hygiene