If you still have your wisdom teeth, they could be the cause of bad breath, too.
Most of us will need to have our wisdom teeth removed at some point in our lives. Usually, it happens shortly after they've emerged as our last set of molars, often between the ages of 18 and 25. Wisdom teeth usually crowd your other teeth, and cause problems with their alignment. If your wisdom teeth are slanted toward your other teeth, it can actually cause surface damage to those other teeth.
Many times, wisdom teeth don't fully emerge from the gums, a condition known as "impacted" wisdom teeth. A wisdom tooth still partially submerged below the gums might be contributing to bacterial overgrowth -- and consequently, bad breath -- due to the small pocket of air between the tooth crown and the gum. The gums around the impacted wisdom tooth are sensitive and tend to get infected easily, and the bacteria infecting the wound release smelly sulfur compounds. This can be treated for a while with antibiotics or by cleaning and irrigating the gums around the wisdom teeth with hydrogen peroxide. Eventually, though, to avoid worsening problems -- and worsening breath -- you'll need to have troubled wisdom teeth removed.
But you're not out of the woods yet. Getting wisdom teeth removed can also cause bad breath. But consider it a short-term sacrifice for long-term breath improvement. When your wisdom teeth are pulled, a blood clot forms in the empty socket. If this is dislodged, it causes a condition known as dry socket, in which bacteria can enter the open wound, causing an infection and potentially bad breath, too.
Your dentist may need to clean the socket and assist in its healing through the use of antibiotics and medicated creams. Though the pain should go away with treatment, the dry socket itself may take several weeks to heal [source: De Vizio]. Bad breath is pretty common for several days after a wisdom tooth has been removed, but if it persists, you need to let your dentist know. To learn lots more information about dental problems and bad breath, read on to the next page.
- American Dental Association. "Bad Breath (Halitosis)." (Nov. 28, 2011) http://www.ada.org/2941.aspx
- British Dental Health Foundation. "Bad Breath." 2010. (Dec. 8, 2011) http://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/sundry/bad-breath
- De Vizio, William, D.M.D. "How long does dry socket last?" (Dec. 19, 2011) http://www.sharecare.com/question/how-long-dry-socket-last
- Katz, Harold, D.D.S. "A prime sign of gum disease? Bad breath." (Dec. 8, 2011) http://www.therabreath.com/articles/blog/A-prime-sign-of-gum-disease-Bad-breath-4313.asp
- Loesche, Walter. "Oral Malodor." (Nov. 28, 2011) http://www.dent.umich.edu/media/research/loeschelabs/
- Mayo Clinic. "Bad Breath." June 19, 2010. (Nov. 28, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bad-breath/DS00025
- Rosenberg, Mel, Ph.D. "Bad Breath (Halitosis)." July 1996. (Nov. 28, 2011) http://www.dent.umich.edu/media/research/loeschelabs/
- Spiller, Martin S., D.M.D. "Bad Breath." (Nov. 28, 2011) http://www.doctorspiller.com/halitosis.htm
- Tonn, Elverne M., D.D.S. "Bad Breath." Feb. 8, 2009. (Dec. 8, 2011) http://www.medicinenet.com/bad_breath/article.htm
- Williams, Darren R., D.D.S. "Dental Health and Wisdom Teeth." March 15, 2009. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/wisdom-teeth
- Wyatt, Alfred D., Jr., D.M.D. "Dry Socket." March 6, 2011. (Nov. 28, 2011) http://www.medicinenet.com/dry_socket/article.htm