How do I get rid of the terrible taste from a bad (soon to be extracted) tooth?
January 16, 2011 6:21 PM   Subscribe

I have a cracked tooth that's coming out in three weeks. In the mean time, it tastes (and probably smells, but I can't tell that for myself) terrible. Any good rinses or other practices to reduce the smell and taste?

I don't know if this information matters or not, but:

I had a root canal done on the tooth because it was causing me a lot of pain. When I went in to get an impression made for the crown, the dentist noted some swelling and took a second look at the tooth and discovered it's cracked too far down to salvage. She said she'd waive the charges for the root canal, gave me a second antibiotic prescription (which I finished as directed) and now I don't have any pain or swelling.

The endodontist doesn't seem concerned about the taste and didn't express any urgency over the temporary filling that's mostly come out over the past two weeks.

So I've got a hollowed out, cracked tooth that produces a bad taste, and it would do worlds for my ability to talk to people without worrying about whether it smells like a squirrel died somewhere inside one of my molars if someone could identify a good rinse or practice for this sort of situation while I wait around for the extraction.
posted by mph to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Gargle salt water or a mouth wash/swish that around your mouth whenever you notice the taste and worry about the smell. When I had my wisdom teeth out, that's what the surgeon told me to do.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 6:25 PM on January 16, 2011

Doubtful that there is much you can do. To see if you have rancid demon breath, lick your wrist and give it a minute to dry a bit, then take a sniff. That's your breath, and if it's awful, breathmint yourself into oblivion.

As a single data point, my partner swore she smelled nothing untoward when I had an abcess, even though my mouth tasted like, well, rancid pus.
posted by Sternmeyer at 6:29 PM on January 16, 2011

Back before dental hygeine was a little more standard, people used to keep cloves in their mouth to deal with this sort of thing. You could keep a little clove or a cinnamon piece in your mouth. Upside: no sugar.
posted by jessamyn at 6:36 PM on January 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

For what it's worth, you may be able to find an emergency dentist who can extract immediately. When I had the tooth from hell (two failed emergency roots canals, massive head infection) I got my tooth pulled for cash the Saturday morning I woke up sobbing in pain. Best $218 I ever spent.

Never mind if there's an actual medical reason for the delay, or you don't live in a failing rust belt city where you can get x-rays, anesthesia and an extraction on the spot for $200.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:45 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Foul smell means bacterial growth, in my own painful experience. Control with a strong antibacterial mouthwash. If that doesn't consistently fix it, I would look to move up your next dentist appointment soon.

My experience with stinky mouth or funny taste was a tooth that needed root canal, and my dentist prescribed antibiotics and got me in soon thereafter.

The taste was really odd because I would brush, floss, mouthwash and my mouth would taste fine, but 15 minutes after that it would be entirely back. Horrible feeling.
posted by artlung at 7:02 PM on January 16, 2011

I have found tea tree oil surprisingly effective for this sort of thing. You can put a few drops in a small glass of water and rinse with it like mouthwash, or just rub it on the gum around the tooth in question with your finger.
posted by mayhap at 7:44 PM on January 16, 2011

When I've taken antibiotics, my mouth tastes funny, even though my breath was fine (according to my husband, who was required to do a Spousal Duty Sniff Test). Could it be that you're still "tasting" the antibiotics you were on, and maybe it will go away soon?

Good luck with the extraction - I had one several years ago, and was so glad to get that painful tooth out of my head!!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:04 PM on January 16, 2011

Perhaps bad advice, but alcohol (not the mouthwash kind) can potentially deal with both nasties and anxiety about said nasties. Seriously. More seriously, the suggestion about a salt water rinse is a good one.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 9:11 PM on January 16, 2011

Swish some hydrogen peroxide around in there to both help kill the infection and lessen the unpleasant taste. Tea tree oil, as noted by mayhap above, also works wonders.
posted by motown missile at 9:31 PM on January 16, 2011

Check out Therabreath at your local drug store or Wal Mart. This stuff attacks the bacteria with chlorine dioxide rather than blasting you with mint and alcohol. It's the Sex Panther of mouthwashes.
posted by kookoobirdz at 9:39 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

See if the dentist will prescribe chlorhexidine. It's a very strong prescription mouthwash that will help with any infection. Get one of those curved (needleless) syringes and squirt the stuff at the tooth and swish it around. Failing that, peroxide will work as well, and water of course.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:04 AM on January 17, 2011

Put 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, which can kill bacteria, in 1 cup of water. Gargle with it for 10 seconds at a time until the cup is empty.
posted by virago at 10:57 AM on January 17, 2011

Thanks for all the answers, everybody. The hydrogen peroxide swish seemed to help, and the wrist-lick test is a welcome verification method. I marked the clove one, too, not because I've tested it yet, but it sounds awfully appealing.

Bonus side effect of the hydrogen peroxide rinse: foaming spit!
posted by mph at 6:19 PM on January 17, 2011

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