Do Cavities Cause Bad Breath?
Do you procrastinate on trips to the dentist, due to fear of the dentist or a busy schedule? Unfortunately, there are many reasons that make it easy to put off going to the dentist, which could be bad news for your dental health, even if you brush and floss meticulously. Waiting too long to see the dentist can escalate oral health problems, like tooth decay and gum disease, and it can even lead to foul smelling breath. Bad breath can be a humiliating condition, but fortunately, it’s usually easy to treat. If you’ve already noticed that you have chronic bad breath, we recommend scheduling an appointment with our office as soon as possible to rule out the possibility of tooth decay and gum disease.
How Bacteria Causes Bad Breath
We all have 100-200 species of bacteria living in our mouth at one time. If you have good oral hygiene and visit your dentist routinely, then you probably have between 1,000 to 100,000 individual bacteria lurking on the surface of each of your individual teeth. People with less clean mouths, who don’t visit the dentist for routine check-ups, can have up to 100 million to 1 billion bacteria inhabiting the surface of each of their teeth.
Some of these bacteria are harmless, while others can cause tooth decay and other serious illnesses, like heart disease, dementia, and diabetes. Bacteria in your mouth causes bad breath by breaking down food particles attached to your teeth. Bacteria thrive on sugar that is left in your mouth. As they consume more sugar, bacteria are able to grow and multiply, creating an acid byproduct that lowers the pH on your teeth, harming your enamel and leading to teeth decay. While tooth decay is a common side-effect of an abundance of bacteria in your mouth, this process can also irritate your gums, leading to gum disease and bad breath. Bacteria that is left to build up on your tongue is another common cause of bad breath.
Cavities and Bad Breath
When left undetected, tooth decay can lead to a hole in the enamel, known as a cavity. Routine trips to the dentist can not only lower the amount of these decay-causing bacteria, but they also help detect cavities, so you can treat the problem before it gets out of hand. Otherwise, cavities will become more advanced, and as the tissue in the tooth continues to decompose, it will emit a foul-smelling gas, leading to chronic bad breath. At this stage, the primary treatment is to have the decayed area of the tooth removed through a cavity filling, or for deeper decay, root canal therapy. In the severest cases, the tooth might need to be extracted.
Treating Bad Breath Caused by Tooth Decay
If you notice that you’re suffering from chronic bad breath, but you’re not sure why, the most likely reason is undetected tooth decay. Oftentimes, patients will not realize they have tooth decay, until a dentist has detected it, or the decay has progressed to the tooth’s nerve, causing a toothache. In the beginning stages of tooth decay, we will recommend a fluoride treatment to strengthen the enamel. As we mentioned earlier, more advanced decay will need to be treated by a cavity filling or root canal therapy.
How to Prevent Bad Breath
Bad breath caused by tooth decay is easy to prevent through rigorous oral hygiene. Many patients are consistent about brushing their teeth in the morning and at night before sleep, but let their flossing fall by the wayside. One way to ensure you’re getting the upper hand on bacteria is by flossing regularly, especially after eating.
Flossing removes bits of food between your teeth and gums, giving the bad breath-causing bacteria nothing to feast on. If you are already dealing with bad breath from an abundance of bacteria that hasn’t advanced to tooth decay yet, you should try brushing your teeth after every meal. You can also make certain lifestyle changes, like avoiding diets that are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. This will not only help your breath, but it will also improve other facets of your health.
Are you dealing with chronic bad breath? Contact Pecan Park Dental and schedule an appointment to rule out more severe causes of bad breath.