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Can cavities cause bad breath? Yes, it can. In fact, it’s one of the more common causes of bad breath.
On the surface, having bad breath is far from the most dangerous medical conditions or symptoms. But quite a few of us would truly want to avoid having this problem, as it can cause extreme embarrassment in social and romantic situations. The problem with bad breath is that it’s actually very common.
Medical experts refer to bad breath as halitosis. It’s a condition so common that an estimated 25% of the global population have it.
Yet despite how pervasive this condition really is, many people who have it are unaware of their problem. You may have a cavity between teeth that holds food particles, but you don’t know how to tell if you have a cavity when you can’t see it.
So how do you know if you have halitosis? While you can breathe on your cupped hand to smell your breath, the most reliable method of finding out is to consult someone you trust like your best friend or a significant other. You can then breathe on them, and then they can tell you honestly if your breath smells or not.
If you have no one you can turn to, then your next best recourse is to check out your own dental floss right after using it. You’ll know you have bad breath if your dental floss smells bad, or if there’s blood on it.
It may well be your own dentist who can tell you that you have bad breath. They can smell your breath, and then they can rate the resulting odor on a 6-point intensity scale.
Your dentist can also scrape the back of your tongue and they can smell the scrapings to see if this area is responsible for the halitosis.
While this tried and tested method is often reliable, we also have modern technology and tests that can help in detecting and rating the odors more accurately. These include:
Halimeter. This tool can detect low levels of sulfur that can be the cause of the halitosis.
Gas chromatography. This is a test that measures 3 distinct volatile sulfur compounds. These are hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, and dimethyl sulfide. These compounds may be responsible for the halitosis.
BANA test. The bacteria that cause halitosis are known to produce specific enzymes, and this test measures the levels of those enzymes.
Beta-galactosidase test. It’s been found that the level of the beta galactosidase enzyme corresponds with the intensity of the mouth odor. This test measures the levels of this enzyme.
The point of all these tests isn’t just to confirm the halitosis. That’s easy enough to diagnose, as a simple smell test can achieve it. However, with these tests the dentists may be able to identify the most probable cause of the halitosis and recommend simple oral hygiene hacks, such as oil pulling with coconut oil benefits.
There are many possible reasons why you have bad breath. Most dentists agree that the most common cause of halitosis is bad oral hygiene. If you suffer from this problem, then you’re not brushing and flossing your teeth as often and as properly as you should.
Your mouth contains bacteria, and when you don’t brush your teeth you have food particles in your mouth on which the bacteria feed and thrive.
The bacteria break down the food particles resulting in sulfur compounds that smell unpleasant. It doesn’t take a lot of particles in your mouth to cause bad breath, as even a little can cause your breath to turn foul.
There are more than 400 types of bacteria in the human mouth that can feat on the food particles you leave in your mouth. Perhaps the most notorious of these bacteria is Streptococcus mutans, which feast on the sugar content in the food particles. When the bacteria digest the sugar, it results in the production of acids that attack the enamel of your teeth.
When this happens often enough, the bacteria can start damaging the enamel of your teeth or cause inflammation of your gums. In both cases, these conditions can result in noxious odors and gases that can make your breath smell bad in the next cavity stages.
Even if you do brush and floss your teeth properly and regularly, you still need to go to the dentist at least twice a year for checkups. And even then, it is still possible for you to suffer from halitosis. Possible causes can include:
Crash diets. Some diets that involve fasting or the consumption of low levels of carbohydrates can lead to bad breath. This is because these diets cause the breakdown of fats to produce chemicals called “ketones”. These ketones have a strong odor, and your breath can carry that smell.
Particular types of food. You may well be aware that some food items are particularly known to cause bad breath. These include dishes that contain large amounts of garlic and onions. After your body digests these ingredients, the resulting breakdown products are transferred into your blood and then into your lungs, so your breath is affected.
Smoking. Tobacco may be notorious for causing numerous types of cancer and other serious long and heart conditions, but the smoke you inhale also causes bad breath. In addition, smoking often leads to gum disease and this condition can also lead to bad breath.
Dry mouth. When your mouth is often dry, your breath generally can turn foul. That’s because saliva acts as a natural cleanser for your mouth. Odors can build up when your mouth remains dry for an extended period of time. Some diseases can have dry mouth as one of the symptoms, which then in turn leads to halitosis.
Certain medications. Some medicines can reduce your saliva. This causes dry mouth which then leads to bad breath. Other medicines can also release chemicals in your breath after your body has broken them down. Some people who also take large doses of vitamin supplements are known to suffer from halitosis as a result.
GERD. The condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease can result in bad breath, because this condition causes the regular reflux of stomach acids.
Other metabolic diseases. Metabolic diseases, including liver failure and some types of cancer can cause bad breath. That’s because they produce a certain mix of chemicals in the body that can lead to foul odors.
Mouth, nose, and throat conditions. When you have an inflammation or infection in your nose, mouth, throat, or sinuses, halitosis can result. Sometimes you may also have tiny stones covered with bacteria forming on the tonsils at the back of your throat, and these can produce a bad odor that you can breathe out.
If you have bad breath, your best recourse is to consult your dentist. If the root cause of the problem is tooth decay, they can then deal with the cavities between teethproperly to eliminate the resulting halitosis.
They will also tell you that good oral hygiene is the key to preventing most cases of bad breath in the first place. Here are some tips that can help.
Brush your teeth regularly. At the very least, you should do this twice a day. But the ideal solution is to brush your teeth after every meal. That should ensure that you get rid of the food particles in your mouth that the bacteria can feast on.
Brush for at least 2 minutes. This is the very minimum amount of time you need to spend brushing your teeth. Some dentists even say that this should be 3 minutes. You can use a timer to make sure that you spend this amount of time brushing your teeth.
Consider using an electric toothbrush. Many of the newer electric toothbrushes have timers, so you can spend the appropriate amount of time brushing your teeth. In addition, the uniform motion of the electric toothbrush is generally more effective in removing plaque compared to using a manual toothbrush.
Brush your teeth properly. Many dentists also counsel that proper toothbrushing technique is even more important. You have to use short strokes moving back and forth against the teeth and gums. The tip of the toothbrush can be used to reach behind the front teeth around the top and the bottom.
Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth. It’s not really a problem when you spend too much time brushing your teeth. The problem is that you may end up using too much pressure. This can cause abrasion of the tooth enamel and of your gum tissues. These problems can lead to tooth sensitivity. To help reduce the pressure you put against your teeth, you can use your left hand if you’re right-handed.
Floss your teeth regularly. Again, the ideal scenario here is you floss after every meal. At the very least, you should do this at night before you go to sleep. This keeps the bacteria from feeding on the food particles uninterrupted while you sleep. You can try a water flosser to make it easier for you.
Try proper mouthwashes. A good mouthwash can help fight bad breath by preventing tooth decay and reducing the bacteria that cause plaque. Your best option is to choose an antibacterial or antiseptic rinse that actually kill bacteria, rather than a “cosmetic” rinse that only masks the bad breath.
Avoid extreme diets that involve fasting and very low amounts of carbs. These diets can cause halitosis.
Avoid constant use of spicy ingredients. Having most of your meals contain garlic and onions may appeal to your taste buds, but your resulting bad breath won’t be as appealing to others. Chronic garlic eaters are known to have chronic bad breath after brushing teeth. In fact, they’re also known to have body odor too.
Snack on watery vegetables. You can snack on celery, raw carrots, or apple slices. The watery vegetables keep your mouth from drying out, and they help clear your mouth of food debris too.
Always stay hydrated. You can drink a lot of water each day to help accelerate the process of cleaning the harmful bacteria from your teeth. Milk can help as well as it can mask offensive breath, though you should avoid sugary drinks.
Don’t drink too much coffee. Even if you drink it black and without sugar, the smell of the coffee can stick to the back of your tongue and that can affect the smell of your breath. Green tea may be a better alternative for your caffeine source.
Don’t use tobacco. Aside from the various ailments that can result from smoking or chewing tobacco, bad breath is often the result. In fact, the resulting stink can be horrible.
Don’t drink too much alcohol. It’s true that the smell of alcohol on your breath isn’t really appealing for the others who can smell it. But alcohol can also dry out your mouth, which then leads to bad breath. Indulging in alcoholic drinks can foul up your breath for up to 8 to 10 hours after you’ve stopped drinking.
Try sugarless gum. Chewing on gum can help with the saliva flow to keep your mouth from drying out. Just make sure it’s sugarless so the bacteria don’t have sugar to feed on. The best products for bad breath are the mints that have been sweetened by xylitol, as these can actually help prevent any cavity in between teeth. It’s also minty cool and it can help to freshen your breath.
Avoid sugary mints. The mint’s sugar will just feed the bacteria in your mouth and that can make the halitosis worse. Even sugar-free mints aren’t much help. While they may do as a quick bad breath home remedy, they don’t really do anything to remove the harmful bacteria causing the problem. These mints just mask the bad breath.
It’s true that you can often help treat the problem of halitosis yourself, simply by practicing good oral hygiene. Most of the time, it’s because bad oral hygiene is what caused the halitosis in the first place.
If that doesn’t work, visit your dentist. If you want to find out how to know if you have a cavity, your dentist can tell you.
What does a small cavity look like? You might not be able to see it, but your dentist can. Your dentist can fix the cavities and even pinpoint the root cause of the halitosis so that you can finally have the fresh breath you deserve.
I developed a love for the outdoors, particularly enjoying gloomy days spent in the forests. Almost every Sunday, my dad would drive my mom, myself, and my older sister to go hiking for family time and escaping the "city" life. Because of this, you'll find me writing a lot about various health topics.Whenever I get the opportunity I also love to write about make-up, skin, and hair! I've been obsessed with it ever since middle school so be sure to check out these topics that I write about as well.