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Diabetes may cause halitosis

Although bad breath is a common health concern, individuals with diabetes are especially prone to symptoms of unpleasant oral odor. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, and other oral-health issues like gum disease are increasingly prevalent among those with diabetes.

Diabetes is an endocrine disorder that inhibits the body's ability to use blood sugar. Bad breath is one of the many health complications that diabetics experience. Diabetes-related bad breath is generally caused by periodontal disease and high levels of ketones in the blood.

Recent research estimates that one in three individuals with diabetes will also experience gum disease, also called periodontal disease. This is because diabetes can impair blood flow throughout your body, including to your gums. Without an adequate supply of blood, the mouth and gums are more prone to infection and quickly develop an unpleasant odor. Periodontal diseases also lead to inflammation, which can hinder metabolism and increase blood sugar, worsening the effects of diabetes.

In addition, high ketone levels in the blood can also occur with diabetes and can lead to bad breath. Without insulin, the body cannot receive the necessary glucose to power its metabolic activity. To compensate for this lack of fuel, the body begins to burn fat instead, which produces ketones as a byproduct in blood and urine. High ketone levels can create a nail-polish-like odor on your breath. If ketones rise to critical levels, the body can enter diabetic ketoacidosis, which involves sweet, fruity-smelling breath and dangerously elevated blood-glucose levels.

To combat bad breath that is caused by diabetes, first make sure that your diabetes is controlled under medical supervision. Uncontrolled diabetes can have severe side effects like ketoacidosis, which may be life-threatening. Once your condition is under control, the effects of bad breath are often less severe. To prevent gum disease and other oral-health concerns, maintain a good oral-hygiene routine of brushing your teeth, gums, and tongue after every meal or snack, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist at least twice a year for routine cleanings and exams.

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