Serious Oral Health Causes of Halitosis

When it doesn’t go away, bad breath can be more than just embarrassing—it can be worrisome. Sometimes, that worry is justified, especially if your halitosis (chronic bad breath) is a signal of a serious oral health issue. If brushing and flossing your teeth consistently doesn’t rid your mouth of bad breath, then you should schedule an examination with your dentist or dental specialist at your earliest convenience.  

When Bad Breath is a Cause for Concern

A Dental Infection

Tooth decay and gum disease, the two most common potentially-serious oral health issues, actually begin as infections caused by bacteria found in dental plaque and tartar. As they develop and progress, the infections can create a foul smell that doesn’t go away with good hygiene. If ignored, bad breath from a dental infection will grow worse, as will the damage to your teeth and periodontal tissues.

A Dental Abscess

In cases of severe tooth and/or gum infection, an abscess may form. Essentially a pocket of infected pus, an abscess can develop on the root of the tooth, within the jawbone, or within your periodontal tissues. The pain from the infection can be intense, unless the abscess ruptures, in which case the discomfort will disappear and an intense odor will emanate as a result. A ruptured abscess is also an emergency situation, and you should seek treatment immediately if it occurs.

A Medical Condition

Some medical conditions that involve oral tissues, like oral cancer, might count chronic bad breath among their many symptoms. However, others that don’t directly involve your oral health might still result in halitosis, such as;

  • Other cancers
  • Diabetes
  • Sinus infections
  • Digestive issues, such as acid reflux
  • Dry mouth, which can be a symptom of several issues as well as a side effect of many medications


Shawn Hofkes, DDS, is highly qualified to address complex issues, including the diagnosis and treatment of destructive gum disease. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today by calling 562-584-4082. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.