Part of presenting our best faces to the world is making sure our smiles are bright and our breath is fresh. Sure, we’ve all been embarrassed by an occasional pungent reminder of that garlic bread we just couldn’t pass up, but with daily brushing and flossing, fresh breath is the norm. Until it isn’t.
If you’ve been carefully avoiding strong foods in your diet, if you’ve started brushing a lot more often, if you’re relying on mints and mouthwash to get you through the day, and you still have bad breath, it’s time to see your dentist or doctor.
Chronic bad breath can be a symptom of tooth decay, diabetes, kidney disease, and many other medical problems. It can also be a red flag for infections, impacted wisdom teeth, and other conditions that are best treated by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon like Dr. Herbst.
What oral conditions might be the cause of persistent bad breath?
- Impacted wisdom teeth. When a wisdom tooth fails to erupt completely, the gum tissue surrounding it can trap bacteria. Unpleasant odors are unfortunate by-products of compounds produced by oral bacteria. More dangerously, though, these bacteria can lead to infection, abscesses, and gum disease.
- A tooth that can’t be saved and needs to be extracted. Serious decay, infection, or an abscess can all be the source of bad breath.
- Dry socket. If the protective clot that forms after an extraction is dislodged, severe pain, infection, and, yes, bad breath can be the result. Be sure to follow any post-op instructions your surgeon’s office gives you, and call immediately if you think you might have lost or damaged the protective clot.
- Dry mouth. If your sleep apnea is causing you to breathe through your mouth all night, saliva doesn’t have the chance to help wash away and neutralize the acids and particles which cause bad breath. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon can let you know all your options for treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea, whether through life-style changes, appliances, or surgery.
- Oral cancer. Of course, bad breath alone is not generally an indication of cancer. The best way to discover oral cancer is home examination and regular checkups with your dentist. If you have any symptoms that could indicate oral cancer, ask your dentist to refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for diagnosis and treatment.
If you are experiencing persistent bad breath, talk to your general dentist or doctor about the possible causes, and whether a visit to our Union City, NJ office is in order. Why choose an oral surgeon? Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are experts in surgical procedures, from simple extractions to complex jaw surgery. They have an additional four to six years of study after dental school in a hospital-based residency program, where they focus specifically on surgical and non-surgical treatment of the face, mouth, and jaw.
Chronic bad breath is a symptom that should not be ignored or masked with gum and mouthwash. Prompt treatment can not only prevent more serious problems from developing, but will provide an added bonus: the return of your confident smile and fresh breath. Let Dr. Herbst help you breathe easy once again!