If you’re a young adult who suffers from halitosis, you may be wondering, “Are my wisdom teeth causing bad breath?” The answer, as with many dental questions, is “it’s possible.” There are a few ways in which wisdom teeth can cause bad breath:
- As they erupt, upper wisdom teeth can irritate your sinuses, causing blockages, sinus infections, and bad breath due to sinus drainage in your throat.
- If the erupting or impacted wisdom teeth have irritated your sinuses, they may be affecting your sleep breathing. This can lead to breathing through your mouth instead of your nose while you sleep. This dries out your mouth and can cause extra bacterial activity that leads to bad breath.
- If your wisdom teeth are impacted and cannot come in cleanly, they can trap food and bacteria, irritate your gums, and injure other teeth. All of these things can contribute to the type of bacterial infection that can cause bad breath.
- If you’ve recently had your wisdom teeth removed, the healing process can sometimes cause bad breath. However, this sort of smell and taste should be resolved by rinsing with saltwater. A saltwater rinse doesn’t resolve the bad breath from your wisdom teeth, you may have an infection.
You may have noticed that a common thread in all of these causes is that bacterial infection is causing bad breath. How to resolve the bad breath from your wisdom teeth depends on where the infection is and how long you’ve had it.
Your Dentist Can Help
If you suspect your bad breath is related to your wisdom teeth, the first step is to talk to your dentist. A set of x-rays can determine if your wisdom teeth are erupting if they’re impacted, and how they’re involved with your sinuses.
If the problem is mainly sinus-related, your dentist will probably have you call your PCP. Antibiotics and oral steroids are often used to treat sinus infections, and your doctor may also recommend a nasal steroid or saline nose wash to help keep your sinuses clear as your wisdom teeth erupt.
If mouth-breathing is contributing to your bad breath from wisdom teeth, you may need to use a mouth rinse to reduce the impact of dry mouth on bacterial growth. The same bacteria that cause bad breath can also cause tooth decay, and when you have insufficient saliva, the acid these bacteria produce eats away at your teeth. CariFree has a wide range of products that you can use at home to balance the pH of your mouth, eliminate decay-causing bacteria, and encourage the remineralization of your teeth.
If your wisdom teeth are impacted, most dentists will recommend surgery to remove them. Impacted teeth are coming in at an angle that will damage your jawbone or other teeth. They will not come in cleanly. Bad breath is one sign that the impacted teeth are causing problems. It’s good to have the teeth removed before the situation becomes an emergency. Well-planned wisdom tooth surgery results in fewer complications. According to the Mayo Clinic, most wisdom tooth surgery is straightforward and does not require a follow-up visit.
One exception to this rule is if you experience bad breath after surgery that doesn’t resolve when you clean your wound with a saline rinse. Bad breath is a sign that unhealthy bacteria is growing in your mouth. After oral surgery, it can be a sign of infection, especially if it is combined with pain and swelling at the surgical site. If the gums where your wisdom teeth were have become infected, you may need to take antibiotics to resolve the infection. In rare cases, you may need a follow-up appointment with the oral surgeon to examine the wound or to do an additional procedure.
Other Causes of Bad Breath
While wisdom teeth can cause bad breath, they’re not the most common cause. Even if you’re in your late teens or early 20s, more common causes of bad breath include allergies, sinus colds, bad sleep breathing, dietary choices, and the normal, every-day bacteria that colonize your mouth. If you’re concerned about bad breath, make sure to mention it to your dentist. There are tests and screening tools available to help you discover the underlying cause and get treatment so that you can be confident in your smile.