Nighttime brushing to get rid of smoker’s breath

How to get rid of cigarette breath

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Nov 27, 2023

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Nov 27, 2023

Night-time brushing is often underestimated by many. Some people are not aware of brushing at night, some forget, some remember to brush at night, but are lazy, and some find it difficult to make a commitment to not eat anything after that. Relatable?

Some studies say nighttime brushing is more important than brushing in the morning. Night-time brushing has many benefits like preventing tooth cavities, and gum infections as well as reducing bad breath. If nighttime brushing is so important for everyone, why is it mandatory for smokers? How can nighttime brushing help smokers reduce their smokers’ breath? Let’s get into the depth of understanding this.

What is smoker’s breath?


Sometimes when you brush your teeth and you do an extra good job of it, you still have a bad or stale smell lingering in your mouth. It’s almost like you have this taste that lingers, even though you have thoroughly cleaned all your teeth. This benign smell is also known as smoker’s breath and is more prevalent in people who regularly smoke cigarettes. Smoker’s breath has a stale smell to it because the chemicals found in tobacco smoke are trapped in the lungs. These remnants mix with your saliva and can create these unwanted odors.

Studies prove smokers are more prone to increased plaque and calculus buildup. Increased plaque and calculus levels in the mouth are the key reasons for having a smokers’ breath.

How does smoking affect oral health?

effects of smoking on teeth

The effects of smoking are not just limited to teeth. It also affects the gums and other tissues in the mouth. Studies prove smokers are three to six times more likely to develop gingivitis (gum disease) or periodontal disease (gum and bone infections), which can attack roots and cause teeth to fall out.

More specifically, it appears that smoking does interfere with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This interference makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease, and also seems to impair blood flow to the gums. Improper blood flow hampers wound healing in regular smokers.

Smokers’ breath usually occurs as a result of chronic smoking. This is because smokers are more prone to plaque and calculus build-up. Effects of smoking also include dry mouth. Inadequate salivary flow causes more plaque to adhere to the tooth surfaces as it is not flushed out. Plaque contains the bad bacteria causing halitosis (bad breath).

Sleeping without brushing

man sleeping without brushing teeth

Normally everyone suffers from plaque accumulation and calculus buildup in their mouth. Even minutes after brushing, whether you eat anything or not, plaque tends to start building up on the surfaces of our teeth. During the day, the remains of the food we eat, and the sugars we drink tend to stay in the mouth.

Now if we sleep without brushing our teeth, the bacteria in the mouth ferment the food remnants and the food begins to rot. Reduced activity and salivary flow during sleeping hours, give enough time for the bad bacteria to ferment the food and release acids. When plaque is not flushed out with brushing and the buildup keeps increasing.

Over a period of time, this turns into calculus. Smokers are bound to be more prone to plaque and calculus buildup which just adds to the increased bacterial load. Increased levels of bacterial growth, increase the levels of bacteria responsible for causing bad breath.

Hence, when you wake up the next morning, the smell you get is a mixture of the smell from the chemicals released from the smoke (cigarette smell) and the bacteria causing bad breath in the plaque and calculus.

Bacteria causing bad breath

Smoking increases the levels of bad bacteria causing malodor because of increased levels of plaque and calculus in the mouth.

Some bacteria are responsible for causing gum and jaw bone infections are-

  • Porphyromonas gingivalis
  • Treponema denticola
  • Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans (especially in children)
  • Bacteroides forsythus
  • Fusobacterium nucleatum
  • Prevotella intermedia

Smoker’s breath has a stale smell to it because the chemicals found in tobacco smoke are trapped in the lungs (cigarette breath). Another bacteria called Helicobacter pylori creates a definite change in the odor of bad breath. This bacterium is seldom a pioneer or first colonizer of the gums since it typically is found in the gut and is known for causing ulcers. When gum infections are already present, H. pylori from the gut, can establish itself in the mouth and gums and adds to the strength of bad breath.

How does nighttime brushing help get rid of cigarette breath?

Brushing at night clears off the plaque, food debris, and all the bacterial remnants from the mouth. This is the main reason to cause bad breath. As smokers are more prone to plaque and calculus buildup, smokers shouldn’t skip this very important step. Brushing at night also leaves you with a fresh minty breath while your sleep; as it also clears of the remnants of the chemicals released, that linger on the soft tissues in the mouth. Brushing removes cigarette smell and helps prevent smokers’ breath.

But it’s just not brushing alone that helps. The nighttime oral hygiene regime for every smoker should include, brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing, and tongue cleaning using a tongue scraper. If at all you permanently want to get rid of cigarette breath, practicing nighttime brushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning is the key.

Regular practice prevents it all

Practicing good oral hygiene will pay off to cure smokers’ breath if done regularly. Doing it once or twice and forgetting about it, will not show any results. Make nighttime brushing a daily habit. Do it regularly to see the results. You will be surprised to know how nighttime brushing can reduce smokers’ breath by more than 50%. Do it to wake up without a bad breath in the morning.

The bottom line

Smokers’ breath is quite a concern for regular smokers. Using a mouthwash, and brushing immediately are just temporary ways to get rid of the cigarette smell. To permanently cure smokers’ breath, nighttime brushing along with tongue cleaning and flossing is very important.


  • Night-time brushing holds the power to keep your dental problems away.
  • Smokers’ breath is a typical smell that is experienced by chronic and regular smokers.
  • Smokers’ breath is a result of the chemicals released from the cigarettes as well as a result of chronic plaque and calculus buildup.
  • Night-time brushing can help reduce the bacterial load in the mouth reducing smokers’ breath.
  • Using a mouthwash, or brushing immediately after smoking does remove the cigarette smell from the mouth instantly, but not permanently. These are just temporary ways.
  • Brushing twice, flossing, and tongue cleaning regularly are permanent ways to cure smokers’ breath.
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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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