Most people wake up in the morning with less than kissable breath. But when bad breath, also known as halitosis, interferes with your confidence and social life, it's time to figure out what's causing it. Do cavities cause bad breath? And is your oral care routine strong enough to keep bad breath away? Here's what may be causing your bad breath and how you can remedy it.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Bad breath results from bacteria accumulation in the mouth. According to a review in the Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences (JPBS), when certain bacteria in the mouth interact with proteins in the saliva, it creates volatile sulfur compounds. The sulfur compounds are what we smell when we realize it's time to grab a mint. According to the JPBS review, bad breath can be caused by:
- Poor oral hygiene that allows food debris to get trapped in the mouth
- Gingivitis and periodontitis
- Bacteria on the tongue
- Ear, nose and throat problems, including tonsillitis and sinusitis
- Dry mouth
- Personal habits, such as smoking and drinking alcohol
Do Cavities Cause Bad Breath?
Cavities are small holes in the teeth where bacteria collect and eat away at the enamel. While cavities do not directly cause bad breath, they can contribute to it. Bacteria can get stuck and accumulate in the decay pockets, making it more difficult to keep your mouth clean and your breath fresh, explains the American Dental Association (ADA).
If you have bad breath, it does not mean you definitely have a cavity, but it's possible that you might. That's why it's important to maintain regular dental appointments and see your dentist right away if you suspect that you have a cavity or are experiencing tooth sensitivity or pain.
Manage Bad Breath and Cavities Like a Pro
One of the easiest ways to manage and prevent both bad breath and cavities is to practice good oral hygiene. Start with brushing twice a day. Brushing your teeth physically removes decay-causing bacteria and food particles. You should also floss daily to remove lingering bacteria and food particles hiding in between your teeth.
Keeping your mouth moist is important for fresh breath, too. A healthy saliva flow is one of the best defenses against bad breath, as it washes out the mouth, notes the ADA. Be sure to drink plenty of water and talk to your doctor about any possible contributing factors for dry mouth, such as taking certain medications.
Smoking is another contributor to bad breath, and it can also increase your risk for gum disease, explains the ADA. Ask your doctor for strategies to help you quit.
Finally, seeing your dentist regularly ensures that your mouth stays healthy. A professional teeth cleaning can remove bacteria and food that your toothbrush at home may miss. Your dental professional will also check for decay that may harbor bad bacteria. If they do detect any cavities, they can fill them to stop the decay from worsening.
Bad breath can be a real bummer. While cavities do not directly cause bad breath, you can prevent both bad breath and cavities by practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly.