Cavities and bad breath are two things that can make a person feel self-conscious. Cavities can create unpleasant-looking spots in the teeth that look worse as the decay continues unchecked. And bad breath can make all sorts of social situations uncomfortable.
Luckily, with regular checkups and professional cleaning, neither poses much risk of affecting your life. And if you have chronic bad breath, it won’t really affect anything other than your self-esteem. But it’s worth noting that other things like cavities can actually cause bad breath. A dentist can help diagnose what is causing the bad breath.
What are Cavities?
When we eat and drink, especially sugary things, our mouths fill up with bacteria. Over time, this bacteria begins building up and eating away at the tooth’s protective layer—the enamel. Once the enamel is penetrated, your tooth’s sensitive inner flesh and root are susceptible to damage.
If left untreated, this decay will keep spreading. The hole it starts getting larger, and the bacteria will attack the root causing all sorts of damage, leading up to tooth extraction or a root canal.
This is why brushing at least twice daily and flossing after every meal is essential. This daily upkeep helps prevent any bacteria from having a chance to build up and cause problems.
Do Cavities Cause Bad Breath?
One of the primary causes of bad breath, or halitosis, is bacteria. Cavities are literally tiny holes in your teeth that are filled with bacteria, so it makes sense that cavities can cause bad breath. Once you have cavities, even proper brushing and flossing typically won’t prevent bad breath because you can’t get the bacteria out of the holes.
In the case of cavities causing bad breath, using a suitable mouthwash may help temporarily deal with the issue. However, after eating through the enamel, cavities cannot be reversed without intervention.
Once cavities have developed in a tooth and the enamel is penetrated, the only solution is to see a dentist. They determine the type of treatment necessary based on the severity of the cavity and how long it was allowed to develop.
Some possible treatments include:
- A fluoride treatment is sometimes a viable way to restore the enamel and prevent further damage if a cavity is caught soon enough. Before it eats through the enamel completely, for example.
- Fillings are one of the most common ways to fix a cavity. The decayed material is drilled out and replaced by an artificial material to strengthen the tooth and prevent bacteria from building up again in that spot.
- Crowns or bridges are two other potential treatments that may be necessary or recommended, depending on the severity of the cavity.
- In the most severe cases, tooth extraction or a root canal may be the answer to a decaying tooth.
Other Causes for Bad Breath
While bacteria from cavities can be a significant cause of bad breath, cavities aren’t the only things contributing to bacteria in the mouth. Plus, bacteria isn’t the only thing that causes bad breath.
Some of the things that could be causing halitosis include:
- Coffee, tea, and other beverages
- Certain foods, such as garlic or onions
- Dry mouth
- Poor oral hygiene
- Infections in your mouth
- Ear, nose, and throat infections or conditions
- Diseases such as cancer or metabolic conditions
Solutions for Bad Breath
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to getting rid of bad breath. However, there are certainly some things that you can try at home before visiting the dentist.
Some simple solutions for bad breath include:
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily—preferably after every meal.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day or every time you eat.
- When brushing your teeth, don’t forget to brush your tongue. Many toothbrushes have special ribs on the back to scrape the tongue.
- If you have dentures or other dental appliances, ensure they are cleaned regularly.
- Avoid letting your mouth get dry. If this is something that’s an issue, there are special mouthwashes available to encourage saliva production. Quitting smoking is another great way to avoid dry mouth.
- Replace your toothbrush regularly. Typically every 3 to 4 months is when it should be replaced.
- Adjusting your diet to exclude certain odour-causing foods, such as garlic or onions, is viable. Excessive sugar can also contribute to bacteria growth in your mouth, leading to bad breath.
Managing Bad Breath and Cavities
Suppose the above solutions aren’t an effective fix for your bad breath issues. In that case, an underlying issue may be causing the problem. In most cases, the only way to discover the cause is through a dental exam.