Waiting To Exhale... Sulfur: What's Causing Your Bad Breath?

23 May 2023
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Occasional bad breath is manageable. It's easy to banish, and a stick of chewing gum or a mint ought to do it (which should be sugar-free, naturally). But what about chronic, persistent bad breath? You may have noticed it yourself, or (worse yet) someone else has mentioned it. This is not only a socially awkward and potentially embarrassing scenario—but it could be that your dental health needs some urgent attention. 

Biofilm on Your Teeth

Even a simple professional dental cleaning can do wonders for noxious breath. The potentially harmful oral bacteria that colonizes your teeth should, in theory, be mostly removed with your own oral hygiene routine. This bacteria forms a biofilm on teeth, which is dental plaque. If it's not removed, this plaque calcifies (hardens) and becomes tartar, which is too strong for your toothbrush to remove. It's quite destructive, and can be actively corroding the tooth structure upon which it sits—and this is how tooth decay starts. 

Exhaling Sulfur

All that firmly ingrained bacteria on your teeth will start to affect your breath. This oral bacteria produces volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). It's as though these countless bacteria are exhaling sulfur, and if you've ever smelled what's called the prototype sulfur smell, you'll know it's not pleasant. If it has been some time (perhaps even a number of years) since you last saw your dentist for a checkup and professional cleaning, the time has definitely come. 

Professional Cleaning

Happily, the unpleasant smell emanating from your mouth should quickly vanish once a dentist has cleaned your teeth for you. They'll use a special ultrasonic device to break up those tartar deposits, and then a special gritty toothpaste to remove any stubborn patches. Your teeth may also benefit from a fluoride treatment. Your dentist will note any instances of decay which may need treatment—as tooth decay could also be playing a role in your unpleasant breath.

Dealing With Decay

Tooth decay is when part of the tooth's structure breaks down—essentially rotting. This may also be part of your bad breath and explains why any breath freshening you've attempted (mint, gum, mouthwash, brushing your teeth) has only offered very temporary results. This decay will be removed, so the resulting cavity can be filled with an appropriate material (which is likely to be tooth-colored composite resin or a white filling).

When your bad breath refuses to budge no matter what kind of breath freshening products you use, it's time to make contact with your dentist.

Reach out to a local dentist for more info.