Can Tooth Decay Cause Bad Breath?
Tooth decay can and does cause bad breath! So the answer is one of the following:
- Are you kidding? Sure!
- Heck yes!
- Bad breath and more!
The reason for this is easy to understand if you think of tooth decay as an infectious process that causes tooth destruction and creates openings (holes, cavities) in the teeth where bacteria can and do live. Think ‘decay’ = rotten! Bacteria take up residence in an area where there has been tooth decay and depending on where the decay is in your mouth, you may not be able to clean this area well so the grossness gets worse!
One place tooth decay occurs that is difficult for a patient (you!) to clean is below an existing crown. Bacteria hang out at the edge of all crowns where the crown meets the tooth. As decay begins, pores open up in the tooth structure and the decay may penetrate up under the crown and really spread there. You can only brush, floss, or toothpick at the edges of your crowns to eliminate – at least for awhile – bacteria that are present there. You cannot get to the areas of tooth decay up under a crown but bacteria and food can. This is a recipe for bad breath!
The patient shown here had been experiencing an occasional bad odor from the lower right side of her mouth for a couple months. She increased her efforts of brushing, flossing, and using antibacterial mouth rinses. The odor did not improve so she came to our office.
The odor from this tooth was bad enough that you could smell bad breath as the patient described her symptoms. Although her oral hygiene was excellent, there was no way she could eliminate the odor emanating from this tooth. The decay was so extensive that the tooth could not be saved and an extraction was required. When the crown was removed you could tails of the previous endodontic (root canal) filling material coated with debris, severe tooth decay, and the most awful odor!
We removed the bulk of the decay and the loose strands of root canal filling material and after copious rinsing the odor became much more bearable. This will clear up once the tooth is removed. If we had seen this patient when she first noticed symptoms, we may have been able to save her tooth!
Our office cares about you and your teeth and we try to never make you feel uncomfortable about the condition of your teeth or your mouth. There are two important messages here:
Tooth decay is one of the many causes of bad breath.
If you notice this, have your dentist evaluate your concerns ASAP!
Please call our Grand Junction, Colorado office at (970) 242-3635 if you have any questions or concerns. Or visit our office’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/juliegillisddspc
Julie Gillis DDS
Restoring Smiles/Restoring Health