My Tooth Smells Bad

A tooth may begin to smell bad for a number of reasons. The most common cause of this however, is tooth decay. When bacteria in the mouth begin to feed on the tooth, they can emit an odor and the tooth smells bad. Over time, this bacteria builds up on the teeth, feeding on the plaque and food particles present in the mouth, and eventually beginning to wear away at the tooth enamel. As the tooth matter becomes decayed, it will begin to smell very bad. When left untreated, the tooth will become brittle, and may crack, chip, or even break.

Where is the smell coming from?

In some cases, the smell is not coming from the tooth itself, but the gums. When plaque and tartar build up are not removed, they can begin to push beneath the gum line, forming deep pockets. These pockets become infected, causing a strong odor to occur. This condition is known as periodontitis, and if left untreated, the teeth can eventually become loosened and fall out.

In addition to tooth decay and periodontitis, there are times where an infection in the tooth will cause an abscess to form. This abscess is filled with a liquid that has an unusually foul smell as it drains. When this occurs you will usually experience quite a bit of pain as well, because the abscess puts pressure on the tooth root. At times an abscess may cause a cyst or lesion to form on the gum. If you notice this, it is important that you contact our office right away in order to ensure your tooth can be saved.

How will a smelly tooth be treated?

The treatment you receive for a foul-smelling tooth will depend on the cause of the smell. In some cases, simply cleaning the tooth and the area below the gum line may be enough. In the case of tooth decay, filling the cavity is usually enough to get rid of the smell.

In the case of a tooth abscess, infected tooth, or periodontal disease, there can be a number of different treatments, such as:

  • Draining the abscess – this will involve cutting into the gum where the abscess is located in order to flush out the infection. The area will then be rinsed with warm salt water and you will prescribed a course of antibiotics.
  • Performing a root canal – if the infection that caused the tooth abscess is extensive, a root canal will be performed in order to save your tooth whenever possible. A small hole will be drilled in the tooth and the diseased tissue will be removed. The resulting space will be filled with a special dental composite, and a dental crown will be placed over the tooth in order to protect it from damage.
  • Tooth extraction – in the unfortunate event that your tooth cannot be saved, your tooth will be extracted in order to preserve the health of the surrounding teeth, gums, and bone. The tooth will then be replaced with a dental implant, fixed dental bridge, or removable partial denture.