Bad breath is a common after-effect of having a tooth extracted, as well as many other oral surgeries. Besides being unpleasant, bad breath after tooth extraction can be a sign of a bigger problem. It is usually not a cause for immediate concern, however, as many of the more serious problems that could occur after tooth extraction are accompanied by other, more noticeable symptoms.
So what causes bad breath after a tooth extraction, and what do you do about it?
Identifying The Causes of Bad Breath After Tooth Extraction
- Bacterial Infection
Bad breath after a tooth extraction is sometimes caused by bacteria infecting the wound left by the extracted tooth. Many forms of oral bacteria create foul-smelling chemicals that are carried out of your mouth by your breath. In these cases, the bad breath is often accompanied by a fever, pus, and severe pain. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of an infected wound, seek immediate treatment from your dentist.
- Post-Surgery Bleeding
It is not uncommon for your gums to still be bleeding a little after surgery. The blood accumulating in your mouth, especially overnight, can give your breath an unpleasant smell. If bleeding persists after a tooth extraction, you should see your dentist to check if there is a problem.
- Dry Socket
A dry socket is a condition that occurs when the blood clot over the empty tooth socket fails to form properly or becomes dislodged, exposing the bone to debris. Dry socket is most common after wisdom tooth extractions. You are more susceptible to the risk of the dry socket if you smoke or do not follow your dentist’s post-surgery instructions.
- Poor Oral Hygiene
It can be uncomfortable to brush your teeth properly after a tooth extraction, and a lot of people will avoid or only brush lightly over the area around where the tooth was extracted. This enables the bacterial plaque to form and can result in food getting stuck between your teeth and starting to rot, creating an unpleasant smell.
After tooth extraction, it is more important than ever to maintain good oral hygiene, as you have a wound in your mouth that needs to be protected from infection.
- Dry Mouth
Besides helping you to digest food, your saliva is also an important chemical that your body uses as a natural cleaning agent for your mouth. Saliva plays a vital role in washing bacteria and the smelly chemicals they produce out of your mouth. A reduction in your saliva production prevents this process from happening properly, giving you bad breath.
Reduced saliva production is a common side effect of many of the pain medications that are prescribed after tooth extraction. Since you will have a breathing tube inserted while under anesthetic that leaves your mouth open during the surgery, it is normal to wake up with a very dry mouth after a tooth has been extracted.
How To Deal With Bad Breath After a Tooth Extraction?
The most important and effective way to treat bad breath after a tooth extraction is to maintain good oral hygiene. Buy a toothbrush with very soft bristles, and ask your dentist about the best way to brush the affected area without disturbing the healing process. After the first few days, brush and use mouthwash after every meal, and remember to brush your tongue as well as your teeth, as your tongue can carry a lot of bacteria that can easily spread to your empty tooth socket.
Mouthwash is the fastest way to get rid of any extra bacteria that might have built up in your mouth as a result of dryness post-surgery. Most dentists advise against using mouthwash in the first 24 hours after having your tooth extracted as the wound is still fresh.
The dryness itself will contribute to the causes of bad breath after oral surgery, so drink plenty of water, but avoid excessive rinsing and spitting, as this will get rid of the saliva that protects your mouth from bacteria and cleans away chemicals that can cause odor.
If you are a smoker, smoking can greatly reduce the rate at which a wound in your mouth will heal, makes you more susceptible to dry mouth, and also puts you at greater risk of getting a dry socket. If you cannot give up nicotine for the duration of your recovery period, consider at least switching to a delivery mechanism that does not involve smoking, such as vaping. Although this still harms wound healing, it is far less detrimental than tobacco smoke.
If you have a bad breath after having a tooth extracted, there is no need to panic. If you are not experiencing any other symptoms such as pain, bleeding, or a fever, then it is unlikely that there is a serious problem. If your bad breath persists after a day or two, however, it is a good idea to see your dentist, both to make sure nothing is wrong and also to get their advice on what is causing it for you.
If any other negative symptoms occur after surgery, these could be a sign of something more serious and should be discussed with your dentist.