Bad breath from the mouth isn't a life-threatening issue, but it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Also known as halitosis, bad breath has another name, fetor oris. The smell can come from the mouth, teeth, or any other underlying health problem. Tonsillitis, respiratory infections such as sinusitis or bronchitis, and some gastrointestinal diseases may be responsible for a small number of cases of bad breath.
Advanced liver or kidney disease and uncontrolled diabetes can also cause unpleasant breath. In these cases, a person is likely to experience significant symptoms beyond bad breath, and should seek medical attention.The intensity of the bad smell is usually evaluated by smelling the air that the person exhales through the nose or mouth, or by judging the smell of a scrape of the tongue, a piece of dental floss, or a dental appliance, such as a night protector. Often, the dentist simply smells the breath of a person suspected of halitosis and rates the smell on a six-point intensity scale.As mentioned above, the most common reason for bad breath is oral hygiene, but other situations can also be the culprit. Digestive disorders, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and intestinal obstruction, can cause bad smelling breath.
If bad breath is due to poor oral hygiene, the dentist may first treat any plaque buildup or tooth decay.Some metabolic disorders and cancers can cause a characteristic odor in the breath as a result of the chemicals they produce. If your bad breath is due to a medical condition, your primary care doctor can offer you treatments that, in turn, can ease your halitosis. Tests can be performed to confirm the presence of halitosis by measuring the intensity of bad breath on a predefined scale and using instruments to detect specific compounds related to halitosis. Fruity smelling breath can be a symptom of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening complication of diabetes.To diagnose halitosis, the dentist will examine your mouth for odor and see if there's an obvious cause of bad breath.
If bad breath persists despite controlling for these factors, it is recommended that the person see a doctor for further tests to rule out other conditions.