Popping mints all day, chewing gum and brushing your teeth may help, but in some cases, halitosis, or bad breath, is almost impossible to get rid of completely. This is not only a nuisance that may cause you to have a fear of public speaking or leaning in close, it could also be indicative of further health problems. Everything from some forms of cancer to periodontal disease could cause your breath to smell unusually bad. Thankfully, there are a few clues that will help you determine if bad breath is something to be discussed with your dentist, or you need another form of medical attention.

Does your bad breath linger even after you know your mouth is clean?

After brushing, rinsing with mouthwash, and flossing, your breath may still be offensive. This can be incredibly frustrating when you know that your mouth is clean. Unfortunately, this could be a sign that something more complex is going on. Some diseases, such as liver disease and diabetes, can cause your breath to smell bad, no matter how much you clean your mouth and teeth. However, the foul smell could also be due to a chemical imbalance in your mouth, which is sometimes related to something as small as the type of toothpaste you use or foods you eat.

Does the bad breath test prove the smell is not coming from your mouth?

A popular method to determine if your breath smells bad involves licking your wrist or finger and allowing it to dry before taking a whiff. If you smell nothing, it usually means that the odor is coming from somewhere deeper in your mouth, or even deeper in your body. Late-stage liver failure and even chronic kidney failure will produce distinctive breath odors.

Has a dentist given you a clean bill of oral health?

If you are having excessive issues with bad breath, it is crucial that the first step you take is talking the problem over with your dentist. Sometimes, unseen dental issues, such as gum disease or hidden decay could be causing the problem. But, if your dentist has thoroughly examined your mouth and does not come up with any reasonable explanations, it is time to start investigating further. Get an appointment with your physician and discuss halitosis and what it could mean about your physical health.

If you suspect that you have deeper health concerns related to bad breath, you should not only talk to some dentists, but your general practitioner as well. Your breath may be bad, but it could be the symptom that points you towards the right kind of care for a serious medical condition.