Everyone has bad breath from time to time. The food you eat can linger on your breath; when you wake up in the morning, your breath often smells stale and nasty. This is often a temporary problem. Regular daily brushing and flossing help keep your mouth smelling fresh.
However, there are times when your breath smells bad, but you aren't sure why. You haven't made any changes to your oral hygiene routine, but something smells off. Sometimes, this is down to a problem with your teeth or gums. What might your breath be telling you?
You Have Tooth Decay
If you have a spot of decay on a tooth, then bacteria battle to break the tooth down. They eat into the enamel and create a hole that ultimately exposes the inside of the tooth. This can make the tooth smell. If you can spot the problem tooth, then you can sometimes check if it is the source of the nasty smell by sucking on it. If the smell gets worse, you can be pretty sure that you need a filling.
Other symptoms like dull aches and intermittent sharp pain in the tooth also point to decay issues. These often happen after you've eaten or drunk something. They may come and go.
You Have Gum Problems
If your gums aren't in good health, then they can get infected. For example, excess plaque turns into tartar which can push the gums out of position. This leaves pockets between the gums and your teeth.
If food particles and bacteria collect in these spaces, then they create a pungent smell as they break down. At this stage, you might also start to see other symptoms like bleeding and swelling.
You Have an Infection
Deep-seated problems in teeth can turn from a simple case of decay to an infection. An abscess builds up inside the tooth. This abscess contains nasty-smelling pus. While many abscesses are trapped inside the tooth, some leak out leaving a rank taste and smell in your mouth. This isn't likely to be the only symptom you have.
By the time an abscess forms, the tooth is likely to be painful. It may throb all the time and hurt a lot when you eat or drink something warm or hot. If you can't find a simple reason for your bad breath, make an appointment to see your dentist. They can help you find a solution and fix any underlying problems that might be making your breath smell nasty.