Bad Breath

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'life-threatening'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose bad breath, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "bad breath" as a symptom.  Here are six possibilities:
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • General Toxicity
  • Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences
  • Tonsil Stones
  • Cigarette Smoke Damage
  • Mercury Toxicity

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
recent onset nausea
severe mercury toxicity
back-of-neck lymph node problems
frequent confusion/disorientation
being an unsocial person
LSD use
frequent unexplained vomiting
coffee consumption
excess nose/throat mucus
meals worsen epigastric pain
smoking under 2 cigarettes per day
occasional rashes
... and more than 70 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of bad breath:
Cause Probability Status
Cigarette Smoke Damage 98% Confirm
General Toxicity 50% Possible
Tonsil Stones 12% Unlikely
Stomach Ulcers 0% Ruled out
Mercury Toxicity 0% Ruled out
Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Mouth/Oral Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about bad breath:
Do you have bad breath?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Occasionally, minor
→ Often minor or occasionally moderate
→ Often moderate or occasionally very bad
→ Often very bad
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate minor bad breath, significant bad breath or severe bad breath, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Effects of a Low Carbohydrate Diet

The acetone resulting from a state of ketosis escapes through the lungs – giving Atkins Diet followers, for example, what one weight-loss expert calls "rotten-apple breath." [Health 19 (1996): p.102] The other ketones have to be excreted by the kidneys.  In a study funded by Dr. Atkins himself, most of the people that could stick with the diet reported headaches and halitosis (bad breath).

Tonsil Stones

A medical study conducted in 2007 found a strong association between tonsilloliths and bad breath.  Among those with bad breath, 75% of the subjects had tonsilloliths while only 6% of subjects with normal breath had tonsilloliths.

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