Remember When Kim Kardashian Claimed She Can Smell Cavities? Well, Here’s the Truth

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I’m basically a walking Keeping Up With the Kardashians encyclopedia. My résumé includes watching (and rewatching!) the show habitually since I was in the 7th grade. Now at 25 years old – with 19 seasons under my belt – I can recall almost every iconic moment from the series. And, wow, there are a lot – like the time Kim Kardashian claimed she could smell when someone has a cavity.

Yup, in an episode from 2012, Kardashian revealed this secret talent and later confirmed it in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, too! And while I’m usually loyal to the family, I’m calling her bluff on the claim.

But I wouldn’t be so bold as to call Kardashian out without a reliable source to back me, which is where Dr. Golda Erdfarb, DDS, an associate professor at Touro College of Dental Medicine, comes in.

“I love Kim Kardashian as much as the next person – I even got my nails done with her once (true story!) – but as talented as she is, I do not believe it is possible to smell when someone has a single cavity.”

Plenty of people with cavities have fresh breath, Dr. Erdfarb says. She adds that the only way to truly know the condition of your teeth is to get a professional X-ray, as some cavities are so small and hidden that they can only be detected with such diagnostic tools.

Related: 9 Things Causing Your Teeth Sensitivity – Plus How to Feel Better

That’s not to say Kardashian isn’t getting a whiff of something, though – it’s probably just the bacteria in the mouth, not the cavity itself.

According to Dr. Erdfarb, cavities are holes in teeth – they are primarily caused by bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which feed off carbohydrates. If not cleaned away, the byproducts this bacteria produces can demineralize a tooth’s structure, creating cavities.

Although you can have cavities and fresh breath, having bad breath can indicate that one has an increased number of bad bacteria in their mouth, she adds.

“Saliva plays a very important role in washing away bad bacteria. If someone has dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, food debris and bad bacteria can be sitting around longer than we would like and cause bad breath and tooth decay.”

“There is a smell associated with someone with gum disease, too, and people who have gum disease can have a higher incidence of cavities,” Dr. Erdfarb adds.

And while a bad smell doesn’t make the list of cavity symptoms, Dr. Erdfarb points out that pain and sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks do, along with appearances of brownish-black holes seen on teeth.

Case closed here – now you know it’s best to talk to your dentist if concerned over bad breath or possible cavities instead of taking Kardashian’s word for it.

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