When Is Bad Breath A Dental Emergency?

9 June 2022
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

You wouldn't think bad breath would be a dental emergency, but in some cases, it can be. Or rather, it can indicate that something else is going on that would be a dental emergency. Most bad breath is caused by poor hygiene or by eating something that smells terrible, but it can also indicate that there is an infection in your mouth. Some forms of bad breath may also be a sign of a non-dental emergency – but an emergency dentist is often the best person to see first.

Sudden, Horrendous Breath or Chronic Bad Breath That Gets Worse

If your normally neutral-smelling breath has suddenly gotten very bad, or your chronic bad breath just got a lot worse, and you have not been eating or drinking anything that could cause it, those could be signs of infection. While the infection could be in your throat or respiratory tract, it could also be in your gums, teeth, or other oral tissue. Foul breath with a sudden onset and no identifiable cause means something has gone very wrong, and you need to see a dentist immediately. This is a sign of a bad infection, even if you don't feel pain.

Of course, if you ate something smelly earlier in the day or the night before (if the breath issue is in the morning), then you'd want to try brushing and using mouthwash. But if you can't get rid of the problem that way, give your dentist a call.

Bad Breath May Indicate a Non-dental Emergency, Too

Bad breath can also indicate problems like gastric reflux and even diabetes. Because the problem is usually related to your mouth, the dentist's office is the best place to start when you get the problem checked out. If the dentist finds nothing, then it's time to call your doctor.

What to Do When You Have Bad Breath

If you notice that your breath is worse but you don't have an identifiable cause, think back on your day. Did you remember to brush your teeth? What did you eat over the past day? Have you gone for several hours without eating or drinking and have kept your mouth closed (which can sometimes create some nasty-smelling breath)? Again, you could try brushing and flossing, and see if that helps. However, if you spot signs of irritation or infection, call an emergency dentist for an appointment. Try your regular dentist, and if no emergency appointments are available, ask for names of other emergency dental services.