When it comes to bad breath, most people know to avoid the repeat offenders, such as strong-smelling foods or tooth cavities. Your bad breath might not be caused by the condition of your mouth, however, but your stomach. In fact, bad breath from stomach issues can be even more perplexing than typical bad breath, as it's harder to identify, isolate and treat. Still, understanding the different causes of stomach-related halitosis can help you decide if your bad breath is just from a garlicky lunch or something more serious.
Bad Breath Causes
Your digestive tract can be more connected to your oral health than you think. Here are some common problems when dealing with bad breath from stomach issues.
- GERD or reflux. If you tend to experience heartburn or reflux after eating certain foods – think dairy and spicy fare – then your bad breath could be related to excess acids produced by your digestive tract. Those acids can have a sour odour, resulting in gaseous smells affecting your breath. Bad breath can be a sign of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD.
- Kidney disease. Bad breath that smells fishy or has a heavy ammonia-like smell can sometimes be a sign of chronic kidney disease.
- Ulcers. Halitosis in the mouth is often attributed to common H.pylori germs. The assumption is that these germs not only contribute to stomach ulcers, but can emit a sulfuric odour. A study published in a 2012 issue of the Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan found that while the link between H.pylori and halitosis still needs further exploration, subjects that were treated for H.pylori did experience beneficial results for their bad breath.
The first step in dealing with bad breath that seems to come from the stomach lies in determining its cause. If you know that you're sensitive to certain foods, you'll understand that your bad breath is probably related to stomach acid. On the other hand, if you notice that the smell is distinctively ammonia-like, you could infer that it might be symptomatic of a kidney condition or chronic disease. Talk to your doctor about your halitosis and what you suspect might be the cause, so that you can work together to come up with a treatment plan.
Once you've addressed the underlying issue causing your bad breath, you can consider other treatment options to keep unpleasant scents at bay.
- Avoid triggers. If spicy food, dairy, stress or other triggers seem to make your bad breath worse, take note so you can avoid them in the future.
- Chew gum. The South African Dental Association suggests chewing on sugar-free gum to help banish bad breath, if only for a short while until you can address the real issue.
- Keep a healthy mouth. Just because your bad breath stems from a stomach issue, that doesn't mean you should ignore your oral hygiene. Brushing twice daily and using a mouthwash helps to kill some germs that contribute to bad breath.
- Consider a probiotic. Better breath could start with a healthier gut, so talk to your doctor about taking a probiotic or adding a daily cup of yogurt to your health routine. Probiotics can restore the balance of acid in your digestive tract so that you're less likely to suffer certain negative effects.
You can't always blame bad breath on germs in the mouth. Sometimes, the problem goes much deeper than that. By isolating any other side effects experienced in addition to your bad breath and talking to your doctor, you can address the issue head-on and get a healthier stomach and mouth to boot.