One of the most common causes of bad breath is tooth decay. The smell comes from accumulation of bacteria – usually in form of plaque – that emit a foul smell.
If your cavities have progressed to the inner layers of your teeth, the decaying pulp can emit an even worse odour.
The best way to cure bad breath from tooth decay is to address the root problem – the decay itself. Talk to your dentist about the best treatment, which will depend on the severity of the decay.
If the cavities are just starting, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatment. This may even reverse the decay.
For advanced cases, treatment options include fillings, crowns, root canal and tooth extraction.
As you get treatment for cavities, here are a few other things you can do to stop bad breath.
Proper oral hygiene
Your cavities were probably caused by less than ideal oral hygiene. It may already be too late to reverse tooth decay by paying more attention to your teeth but it will prevent the decay from getting worse.
It can also help reduce bad breath.
There are three essential aspects to proper oral hygiene.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. If you can, brush after every meal. You can use any toothbrush but an electric toothbrush is the best. Most come with timers, ensuring you brush for the required amount of time. They also do a better job removing plaque compared to manual toothbrushes.
- Floss your teeth at least twice a day. It removes food particles that your toothbrush can’t get to. Left between your teeth, these food particles can cause bad breath and worsen tooth decay.
- Use a mouthwash. Mouthwash kills off any bacteria left in your mouth and prevents plaque from building up. A good antibacterial mouthwash can keep away bad breath the entire day. Your dentist may recommend a medicated mouthwash that also treats the cavities.
Loading up on healthy foods like vegies and fruits is not just important for your weight; it can also improve your oral health and reduce bad breath.
Sugary foods and drinks are the main causes of tooth decay. Bacteria feed off the sugar and then produce acids that dissolve your tooth enamel.
If you keep eating sugary foods, your cavities will get worse as will your bad breath problem.
Consider adding more vegetables and fruits to your diet. Raw ones like carrots, celery and citrus fruits are especially good.
Avoid processed foods as they often contain a lot of sugar.
If your mouth is too dry, it’ll smell bad. That’s because there isn’t enough saliva to wash away dead cells and neutralize acid from bacteria.
In fact, dry mouth or xerostomia can lead to or worsen tooth decay.
Staying hydrated can help keep your mouth moist. This will reduce plaque build-up and prevent smelly dead cells from accumulating on your teeth and tongue.
Drinking water also washes away bacteria that cause bad breath.
If dry mouth persists even with frequent water intake, see your doctor. It could be caused by an underlying health condition such as anaemia, diabetes or a salivary gland infection.
Chew sugarless gum
Chewing sugarless gum with xylitol has been shown to help with tooth decay. It can also reduce bad breath.
The gum stimulates your salivary glands, causing them to produce more saliva. The saliva cleanses your mouth, reducing the amount of bacteria and plaque build-up.
Stop smoking and cut down on alcohol
Smoking tobacco causes all kinds of damage to your teeth, decay being one of them. If you already have cavities, quitting can help slow down the decay and reduce bad breath.
But don’t switch to smokeless tobacco thinking it is a healthier alternative. It can also cause tooth and gum problems and worsen bad breath.
You may also want to reduce the amount of alcohol you take. Alcohol itself causes bad breath that can last for hours after your last drink.
Most alcoholic drinks also contain sugar, which can worsen tooth decay and bad breath.
Not only that, alcohol also causes dry mouth, a common cause of bad breath.