Beyond halitosis: Do my metal fillings make my breath smell bad?

You approach each day wanting to look and smell fresh, but the occasional mouth odors are bound to happen. In most cases, bad breath can be prevented by a change in diet, increased water intake, or chewing on mints or gum after meal. And of course proper oral health care – regular brushing and flossing, regular dental check-ups – is critical to maintaining fresh breath. But when a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough to combat unpleasant odors, it’s time to talk to your dentist: they may be coming from those old metal fillings.

The Bad Breath Paradox

It’s obvious when someone else has bad breath, but you can’t always tell when your own oral aroma if offensive to others. Most people do, in fact, have bouts of bad breath at any given moment. However, few people ever realize that they suffer from the condition. A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association calls this condition the Bad Breath Paradox.

Although tens of millions of humans suffer from halitosis, there are several reasons why we can’t easily smell our own breath. Evolution tops that list, according to the study. Most causes of bad breath – smoking, dietary choices, poor oral hygiene, even prescription medication – are easily remedied. However, if the problem isn’t easily correct or if the odor is unusually foul, a trip to the dentist is in order. Your dental fixtures may be partly to blame.

The Perfect Home for Bacteria

Cosmetic dentistry has grown, evolved, and changed drastically over the past several decades. Modern advances and new technology are continuously emerging. But one common concept remains true regardless of how advanced the materials become: poor oral hygiene is the main cause of many health issues, including halitosis.

The mouth is a prime breeding ground for bacteria – it’s warm, moist, and provides all the necessary nutrition bacteria need to survive. Natural enamel on teeth is hard, but it’s not impenetrable. Families of bacteria clamor on and between teeth, eating away the hard exterior and leaving behind decay. The bacteria may also attack the gums leading to gingivitis – a potentially serious gum disease. If you and your dentist have determined that your oral health is generally good, but you still have foul odors emanating from your mouth, it may be time to update your fillings.

Beyond Halitosis: How Do Fillings Help Bacteria Flourish?

Dental materials are constantly analyzed and adapted for safety and security standards. The materials used today are far more durable than those used as recently as a decade ago. Composite materials are designed to ward off decay; yet, if your fillings or other materials are more than 10 years old, even a simple chip or crack in the substance can be enough to encourage bacteria growth. Underneath the materials, existing weakness along with the dark, moist, and hot conditions of the mouth lead to a new crop of decay. This new line of attack may reveal itself via unusually bad breath.

Concerned about your own breath? You should be. Twenty-five percent of people worldwide have chronic halitosis. If you suspect you’re among them, check with a trusted loved one to gauge your own oral scent. Beef up your oral hygiene routine, and stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle. But if these things are not enough to correct the problem, see your dentist as soon as possible. The solution could be as simple as replacing those old metal fillings with a new, more bacteria-resistant material.

Get a professional opinion. Sachar Dental in Midtown Manhattan, NYC can help you determine the cause of your bad breath problem. Their Fresh Breath Center utilizes the latest treatments to give you fresh breath once again.