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Do Cavities Cause Bad Breath?

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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 an accumulation of germs in the mouth. According to a review in the Journal of Pharmacy and BioAllied Sciences (JPBS, the official publication of the Organization of Pharmaceutical Unity with BioAllied Sciences registered in India), when certain germs in the mouth interact with proteins in the saliva, this creates volatile sulfur compounds. The sulfur compounds are what we smell when we realise 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
  • Gum problems and periodontitis
  • Germs 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 germs collect and eat away at the enamel. While cavities do not directly cause bad breath, they can contribute to it. Germs 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).

Bad breath does not necessarily signal a cavity, but it could indicate that you have one. 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 if you 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 practise good oral hygiene. Start with brushing twice a day. Brushing your teeth physically removes decay-causing germs and food particles. You should also floss daily to remove lingering germs 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 problems, explains the ADA. Ask your doctor for strategies to help you quit.

If you wear dentures or another oral appliance, the US-based Mayo Clinic suggests cleaning them daily to prevent bad breath. Follow your dentist's specific directions for cleaning your appliance.

Finally, seeing your dentist regularly ensures that your mouth stays healthy. A professional teeth cleaning can remove germs and food that your toothbrush at home may miss. Your dental professional will also check for cavities that could harbour bad germs. If they do detect any cavities, they can fill them to stop the condition 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 practising good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly.

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