Traditional ways to control morning breath involve oral hygiene routines and the use of commercial products upon waking. You open your eyes, yawn, swallow, and run your tongue around the inside of your mouth. Then you head for the bathroom to brush, rinse, and gargle. All this is indeed helpful: you get the saliva running again, physically remove odor producing bacteria that have multiplied overnight, and inhibit the remainder with antibacterial compounds in the products that you use.
New halitosis research, however, suggests that we can adopt daily routines that will have us waking up with less of a problem. Some products are more effective than others as preventative measures and some approaches appear to control morning breath before it happens. Researchers in South America have studied the effects of mouthwash containing chlorine dioxide, and the effects of using a toothpaste with added flavor, to see if these products reduce the amount of volatile sulfur compounds present in the mouth after sleep.
Chlorine dioxide is believed to both break down volatile sulfur compounds by reacting with them chemically, and kill the bacteria that produce these compounds through oxidation. New halitosis research has supported the claims about sulfur compounds, and a number of studies are now looking at the antibacterial activity, as well as comparing the effectiveness of chlorine dioxide to control morning breath against that of other products. The Brazilian study found that mouthwash containing chlorine dioxide (used three times daily) is more effective than mouthwash without it.
The idea of added flavor in toothpaste being used to control morning breath relies on the belief that oral malodor after sleep results from a decrease in saliva production. Less saliva allows odor producing bacteria to proliferate through the night. Because enjoyable flavors induce salivation, adding flavors to a dental hygiene routine should keep saliva flowing at an increased rate and therefore cut down the numbers of bacteria being produced in the mouth. New halitosis research coming out of Brazil indicates that the use of flavored toothpaste (three times a day) resulted in lower levels of volatile sulfur compounds compared with non-flavored products.
Peruzzo, Daiane Cristina, SÃ©rgio Luis Salvador, Antonio Wilson Sallum et al. “Flavoring agents present in a dentifrice can modify volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs) formation in morning bad breath.” Brazilian Oral Research Vol.22 no.3 SÃ£o Paulo. 2008.
Peruzzo, Daiane Cristina, Priscila Fontoura Castelo Branco Jandiroba, and Getulio da Rocha Nogueira Filho. “Use of 0.1% chlorine dioxide to inhibit the formation of morning volatile sulphur compounds (VSC).” Brazilian Oral Research Vol.21 no.1 SÃ£o Paulo Jan./Mar. 2007.
R. Drysdale is a freelance writer with more than 25 years experience as a health care professional. She is a contributing editor to Control Morning Breath at Bad Breath Remedies, a blog dedicated to the treatment of bad breath.