Causes of Bad Breath That Might be Serious

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
July 18, 2019

A older woman brushing her teeth to avoid bad breath

Oftentimes, bad breath is the result of poor oral hygiene or something that you ate. Even being under an ultra-stressful situation can cause it! And we all know what morning breath is like.

Bad breath happens to everyone, and there are several causes behind it. But did you know that unpleasant breath might be a sign that there’s a more serious underlying health issue to blame? It’s true!

Having an understanding of the reasons for bad breath that are cause for alarm is one step that you can take towards maintaining your health. So keep reading to learn about some of the main bad breath causes that may indicate something serious is going on.


When Bad Breath Is More Than Just Stinky

Your bad breath might be a signal that something is wrong elsewhere in your body. And your doctor might be able to test your breath for the levels of specific gases that can help pinpoint what’s amiss.

  • If your breath has high levels of acetone, diabetes might be to blame.
  • If your breath is high in nitric oxide, you might have asthma.
  • Too much ammonia in the breath might indicate renal failure.
  • If your breath has a lot of methylamine, you might be suffering from kidney disease or liver disease.
  • A mix of gases in your breath might even alert your doctor to throat cancer.

Who knew your breath could tell doctors so much?!

Bad Breath and Gut Problems

Bad breath that you can’t seem to get rid of might indicate that the problem really starts in your gut.

  • Did you know that bad breath might be a sign that you have a stomach ulcer? There will likely be other symptoms, though, such as pain in your stomach, heartburn, and difficulty eating.
  • If you have a bowel disorder, acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or poor digestion, you might end up with bad breath too.
  • Even constipation may lead to unpleasant breath. So be sure to eat plenty of fiber to stay regular!

Bad Breath, Gum Disease, and Heart Disease

What goes on in your mouth might cause bad breath, but it can also cause damage in other parts of your body as well. That’s why it’s important to take it seriously when you have persistent halitosis.

  • Many people don’t know this, but the bad breath that comes from gum disease might be a sign that you also need to check your heart health.
  • If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, it’s important to realize that treatment is necessary, as allowing it to progress might put your ticker at risk.
  • Basically, inflammation and bacteria associated with gum disease might increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. So, seeing your dentist for treatments to get rid of the gum disease may help you achieve fresher breath and a stronger heart.

What Does Your Breath Smell Like?

Smelling your breath might help you narrow down what’s causing it to occur despite your best efforts at keeping your mouth clean.

  • Fruity odor = diabetes
  • Fishy odor = kidney disease
  • Fecal odor = bowel obstruction
  • Sour milk odor = lactose intolerance
  • Rotting odor = lung disease

These aren’t to say you have these conditions, please consult a doctor.

If you’re experiencing other symptoms, in addition to halitosis, it’s certainly worth getting a checkup. Just keep in mind that, to diagnose these conditions, your doctor will need to evaluate more than just your breath.

Other Health Problems That Are Also Bad Breath Causes

We’re not done just yet. There are several other conditions that may lead to bad breath. They include:

  • Infections in the mouth
  • Sinus problems, such as postnasal drip
  • Tonsil infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Blood disorders
  • Metabolic disorders

Talk to Your Dentist About Chronic Bad Breath

Are you suffering from bad breath and you just can’t figure out how to freshen it up? Consider making an appointment with your dentist to get a cleaning and discuss your oral hygiene routine. That way, you can determine if you’re doing enough at home to keep your mouth as bacteria-free as possible. Plus, your dentist will also be able to evaluate your entire mouth to see if the halitosis is coming from something like gum disease or an infected tooth, as a couple of examples.

If, after seeing your dentist and getting the all-clear, you’re still combating nasty breath, it might be time to see your doctor to discuss what’s been going on, as there may be something in another part of your body that’s causing the off-putting odor. With the right treatment plan, you’ll be able to get your health back on track, and you won’t have to be embarrassed by bad breath anymore.



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