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Why Does Your Breath Stink In The Morning

by Clara Wynn
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Why Does Your Breath Stink In The Morning

Why Does Your Breath Stink In The Morning? You wake up and take a whiff — it smells like someone took a bite from an onion sandwich. You know that smell all too well; it means you have halitosis (bad breath). And if you’re not careful about avoiding or treating bad breath issues, they could become chronic problems for you.

Halitosis is caused by an imbalance between the amount of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) produced within the body and those expelled through breathing. When your mouth dries out, odor-producing bacteria proliferate. That’s because when you sleep, your normal flow of saliva decreases. Saliva contains enzymes that break down food into nutrients that are needed to keep our bodies healthy. It also has antimicrobial properties that help fight infection-causing microbes. But as we age, our bodies produce less saliva, which allows harmful germs to multiply and thrive.

If you have dry mouths due to medications or medical conditions such as xerostomia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Sjögren’s syndrome or Parkinson’s disease, then there may even be more reason to worry. Dry mouth affects how much fluid one produces, but when the mouth isn’t producing enough watery saliva, VSC levels will increase. That means you’ll breathe in foul odors throughout the day.

But don’t despair! There are ways to deal with this problem. First, let’s discuss what causes our breath to stink so badly in the first place.

Bad Breath Isn’t Just About Bacteria

Breath stinks because of the chemical composition of our airways. Like everything else in our bodies, our lungs contain cells that work together to perform certain functions. One function of these cells is to exchange oxygen molecules across their cell membranes. This process requires proteins called hemoglobins. These proteins bind to the molecule known as deoxyhemoglobin on the side of the red blood cells where oxygen gets released. Hemoglobin transports oxygen to the tissues in the body by attaching itself to the oxygen molecule. Once this happens, the hemoglobin releases its hold on the oxygen molecule, allowing it to travel freely around the body.

Hemoglobin’s job is done once it delivers the oxygen molecule to the tissue that needs it. However, after the oxygen molecule leaves the hemoglobin, the protein attaches itself back onto itself. Thus, each time hemoglobin carries oxygen to another part of the body, it must release it again at the end of its trip.
As mentioned, the airway lining consists of mucus and cilia. Mucus is a clear substance that traps particles and debris before it enters the lungs and helps protect them from drying out and becoming irritable. Mucus is created inside the nose and throat, and it moves along toward the pharynx (the area behind the soft palate). Here, it becomes thicker and turns sticky. A layer of mucus forms over the surface of the tongue, trapping any excess liquid that wouldn’t otherwise be able to leave the mouth. As the mucus travels farther down the throat, it thickens further.

Finally, the mucus exits the body through the nose.

Cilia are hair-like projections found just beneath the outermost layer of mucus. They move in unison, creating waves that push mucus forward. Together, cilia and mucus sweep away dirt and other foreign particles.
To prevent germs from taking root in the mouth, the tongue should remain moistened for several minutes after meals. If the tongue doesn’t get enough moisture, the mouth can fill up with a film of dead cells and bacteria.
While good oral hygiene habits are important for preventing plaque buildup, toothbrushes aren’t always effective at removing the gunk. For example, people who brush too hard can actually injure their gums. Brushing too vigorously can also cause gum irritation.

The best way to avoid an unpleasant breath? Use toothpaste containing fluoride, according to researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Their study showed that people using dentifrices with fluoride had significantly lower breath odor than those who didn’t use a product with fluoride.

Treating Bad Breath Is Easy With Good Habits

Now that you understand why bad breath occurs, consider forming new habits. Some behaviors make your breath stink more than others do. Let’s start with smoking. Smoking is linked to increased production of VSCs. This is because nicotine reduces the supply of oxygen available in the bloodstream by constricting the arteries. Smokers often suffer from sore throats, dry mouth, and rasping breath.
Another habit that makes your breath stink is drinking alcohol without brushing your teeth beforehand. Alcohol consumption increases acidity in the stomach, which encourages bacterial growth.

In addition to being associated with bad breath, some bacteria can lead to serious health problems. Streptococcus mutans is a common species of bacteria that starts growing in the mouth. Its primary role is to convert sugar into acids that dissolve teeth enamel. Acidic products can erode the protective covering of enamel, resulting in cavities.

A third major factor that contributes to bad breath is poor eating habits. Eating foods rich in starch and carbohydrates can contribute to excessive salivation. If you eat too quickly, you may miss the opportunity to spit anything that comes out of your mouth. Also, swallowing large amounts of fluids can dilute the pH level of the saliva. That’s because saliva is alkaline (pH 7.2) and most beverages have acidic pH levels.

Eating small portions of foods slowly can reduce the number of times you swallow. Chewing your food thoroughly can also improve digestion, which in turn improves the quality of your breath.

Finally, chewing thoroughly after eating helps eliminate food residue, which can encourage the proliferation of bacteria that cause bad breath.

If you smoke or drink heavily, you may want to try switching to electronic cigarettes. E-cigs emit vaporized doses of nicotine via cartridges. While research regarding e-cig safety is still ongoing, preliminary studies show that e-cigs are safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes.

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