Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common symptom of poor oral hygiene. Sinus infections, certain foods, tobacco products, and dry mouth can also lead to bad breath. The medical term for chronic bad breath is halitosis.
Bad breath can result from sulfur compounds released by bacteria in the mouth, food odors, or salivary gland dysfunction.
Bad breath alone is rarely due to a serious problem. However, it can be a symptom of an underlying health condition, such as a digestive issue, a respiratory condition, or diabetes.
Treatment starts with practicing good oral hygiene. If bad breath persists, a dentist can help you get to the root of the problem or suggest when to see a primary care physician.
This article goes over the symptoms that come with bad breath, some common causes, and how to get rid of halitosis.
What is halitosis (bad breath)?
Breath can have a bad odor when you first wake up. This can also occur after eating certain foods. However, chronic bad breath can be different. Halitosis can indicate a health condition or a problem with oral hygiene.
Most cases of bad breath originate in the mouth and airway passages. Poor oral hygiene is a common cause of chronic bad breath. Without brushing and flossing daily, food particles remain in the mouth, on the tongue, and between the teeth. These food particles collect bacteria, causing bad breath.
Infections of the gums (gingivitis) and salivary glands can both result in bad breath. Other common causes include dry mouth and smoking or chewing tobacco.
Certain medical conditions — such as postnasal drip, tonsillitis, sinusitis, and bronchitis — can also cause bad breath. Digestive disorders, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and bowel obstruction, may result in breath that smells.
Breath with a fruity odor may be a symptom of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a life threatening complication of diabetes. Liver disease may be to blame if breath has an ammonia-like odor.
What other symptoms might occur with halitosis (bad breath)?
Bad breath may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder, or condition.
Oral symptoms that may occur along with bad breath
Bad breath may accompany other symptoms affecting the mouth, including:
- bleeding, tender, swollen, or receding gums
- a bright red or red-purple appearance to gums
- dry mouth
- mouth or facial pain, especially when eating
- mouth sores or sores that contain pus
- flushing over the side of the face or the upper neck
- a sore throat
- swollen tonsils
Other symptoms that may occur along with bad breath
Bad breath may accompany symptoms related to the respiratory system and other body systems. Such symptoms may include:
- pain, tenderness, swelling, and pressure around the eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead
- postnasal drip
- a sore throat
- a stuffy nose or nasal congestion