How Bad Breath and Gum Disease Are Linked

Some of the most common symptoms of gum disease are obvious: bleeding gums, tender gums, or even a receding gumline. Gum disease can, however, affect other parts of the mouth besides your gums. These symptoms include loose or wiggly adult teeth, pain when chewing, and even bad breath.

Regardless of which symptoms you spot first, it’s important to treat gum disease as soon as possible to prevent tooth loss. Dr. Lovely Manlapaz Teodoro of The Dental Center of Hercules is skilled in diagnosing and treating all stages of gum disease. Whether you need a thorough cleaning, a root scaling and planing, or even laser gum surgery, we can help you get back on track.

In the meantime, you might wonder how bad breath is connected to gum disease. In this article, we’ll explore the connection.

Bad Breath 101

Sometimes food can impact the quality of your breath. A bite of fresh basil or a berry can freshen your breath, while onions and garlic can leave a bad after-taste in your mouth. Food-related bad breath can be improved by chewing sugar-free mint gum, brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, or even just rinsing your mouth with water. Food-related bad breath should not persist if you keep up with a good oral hygiene routine.

Bad breath isn’t just caused by food, though. Bad breath — officially labeled as halitosis — is caused by bacteria. Bacteria themselves aren’t stinky. Rather, when bacteria breaks down protein in your mouth, they release volatile sulfur compounds — and that’s where the odor comes from.

Normally, you have some bacteria in your mouth, but saliva (as well as drinking water) helps to flush them out of your mouth. The problem intensifies when:

There are many different types of dental infections that can lead to bacterial overload — and bad breath. This includes all stages of gum disease, both gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gum disease and odor

Gum disease is one of the leading causes of halitosis. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, almost all (80%) of those with gum disease experienced bad breath. 

Where does the bad odor come from? We already covered that bacteria from infections can contribute to bad odors. However, bad odors can also come from inflamed gum tissue.

According to research published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, the inflamed gum tissues also produce VSCs (i.e., what causes the bad breath in the first place). To make matters worse, if you have extensive plaque (a sticky bacteria buildup) and inflamed gum tissue, you have two sources of VCSs. 

To recap, gum tissue causes bad breath in two ways:

This kind of bad breath doesn’t go away if you brush your teeth or use mouthwash. It keeps coming back because the bacteria and inflamed gum tissue remain untreated.

Halitosis can increase your risk of gum disease

If you have halitosis, it’s possible that the bacteria (that cause bad breath) can increase your risk of developing gum disease. According to the same study published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, untreated halitosis (from too much bacteria) can increase your risk of developing gum disease when the bacteria migrate to your gums. 

Finding a treatment for both bad breath and gum disease

Bad breath can be embarrassing, but untreated halitosis and gum disease can compromise your dental health. Gum disease can cause discomfort, loose teeth, and increased difficulty enjoying your favorite foods. 

Treatment will often address both of your concerns — bad breath and gum disease. Depending on the severity of your gum disease (gingivitis versus advanced periodontitis), your treatment options vary. For mild gingivitis, you might just need a deep cleaning and a rededication to your at-home oral hygiene routine. For more serious cases, you might need root scaling and planing or even laser treatments. As your oral health improves, the bacteria and inflamed tissues (both causes of VSCs) will decrease.

Can’t shake your bad breath?

If you constantly feel the need to pop a breath mint, it’s time to give us a call. If you’re struggling with bad breath and/or gum disease, we can help you achieve your goals of fresh breath and healthy gums. 

Contact our Hercules, California, office today at 510-254-3328. Don’t forget: You can always schedule an appointment on our website.  

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