Acid Reflux and Bad Breath

Acid Reflux and Bad Breath

When it comes to getting rid of bad breath, most of us know to avoid repeat offenders such as strong-scented foods and maintaining proper oral health. However, in as much as proper oral health is probably the key to managing your mouth breath, many people do not realize that their bad breath might be coming not from their mouth, but their gut according to Mayo Clinic. Yes, your stomach plays an integral role in determining your breath. So, acid reflux and bad breath are definitely connected.

The link between your stomach and breath can be quite perplexing than the typical oral breath since breath coming from your stomach is hard to identify, isolate and even treat.

Still, understanding the different causes of stomach-related breaths is vital in determining whether your breath is just from a garlicky lunch, or something more serious.

We understand it can be quite challenging dealing with a bad breath, and this is particularly true if you`ve been religiously brushing, flossing, and popping mints like crazy, but still, nothing is sufficient to kill your stubborn breath.

If you`ve been having such an experience, maybe it`s time to look for a solution beyond your mouth. One of the common culprits is acid reflux.

What is Acid Reflux?

According to Nermous, acid reflux is a condition in which the stomach contents flow backward into the esophagus. Th esophagus is the tube connecting the throat to the stomach.
Acid reflux is interchangeably used or rather confused with the term gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). However, both terms are closely related, since GERD is the long-term or rather a chronic version of acid reflux and a more severe form of acid reflux.

For convenience, however, we shall interchangeably use both terms in this article. In any case, both conditions have similar outcomes with the only difference being in their severity.

Causes of GERD

One of the primary causes of GERD in most people is a faulty or rather relaxed lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a valve-like muscle that forms a barrier between your esophagus and stomach. It`s responsible for controlling food intake in your stomach.

When working correctly, it opens every time you swallow food to let food enter the stomach, and then tightly closes.

GERD can also be caused by the relaxation or weakening of the esophagus when it shouldn`t, hence causing the contents of the stomach to rise. In many cases, the weakening of the esophagus can be caused by increased pressure on the abdomen.

On the other hand, a faulty LES always remains open, allowing food substances, digestive juices, acids and other digestive products to flow back into your throat.

Hiatal Hernia

Hiatal Hernia and Bad Breath

This is a medical condition in which part of the stomach pushes upward through the diaphragm. Hiatal Hernia causes the stomach to move up into the chest and thus making the natural anti-reflux mechanism weak or incompetent (you can also use some natural remedies).

In most cases, this condition affects people over the age 60 and toddlers, but the number of people of different ages affected by this condition is on the rise globally.

Additionally, despite the prevalence of GERD, many people are still not aware of the condition, and this is particularly true when GERD presents itself with atypical symptoms.

Acid Reflux and Bad Breath

There’s a gamut of symptoms associated with GERD including heartburn, sore throat and a burning sensation. The most embarrassing symptom, to be honest, it`s fetid breath.

Below, we look at the 3 common linking factors between GERD and bad mouth odor.

  • In case of an acid reflux, stomach acids, and food particles can travel up as far as the throat, hence coating the inside of your throat, mouth, and larynx. As you breath, the air goes over an acid-coated surface, giving out a strong pungent and acrid smell.
  • Acid reflux often triggers a mucus response, where the mucous from your nose or sinuses drip at the back of your throat. Accumulation of mucous at the back of your tongue itself can be a source of the pungent smell in addition to inviting a gamut of bacteria that exacerbate the situation.
  • Finally, acid reflux damages various respiratory structures. This damage can cause some of the structures to wear out or rather break down. While it may not happen on a large scale, the resultant effect is the accumulation of worn-out structure particles in the respiratory tract, which contributes to bad mouth odor once they start decomposing.

Bad Breath Management for Individuals with GERD

Even though the burden of GERD is enormous, affects the quality of your life, both physically and emotionally, as well- as your social well-being, there are steps that you take to manage bad breath from this condition.

Some of the steps to take include;

Lifestyle Changes

Some lifestyle practices are responsible for the acid reflux.

For instance, smoking is a cause of bad mouth odor by itself. Additionally, nicotine found in the tobacco is known to cause the relaxation of LES, allowing acid reflux into your esophagus. Additionally, smoking has been linked with conditions such as cancer of the mouth, liver, and colon, and it should be in your best interest to quit smoking.

Other adjustments that you should consider making include;

  1. Placing a six-inch board pillow under your head of your bed to raise your torso and reduce pressure on your LES.
  2. Engaging in weight management to reduce the pressure applied on the LES.
  3. Proper table manners practices such as eating in an upright position and waiting for at least 30 minutes before lying down.
  4. Eating smaller quantities of meals frequently rather than large meals. Large meals increase the level of acid in your stomach resulting in indigestion, and this results in the buildup of pressure, which pushes against the LES and forces it to open.

Re-evaluating Your Dietary Options


Modifying your diet can help in relieving GERD symptoms as well as bad breath. There`re some foods, however, known to aggravate GERD by relaxing the LES or increasing the acid levels in the stomach.

If you have GERD (or mothball breath, for instance), you first want to consider limiting foods such as;

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee and cola
  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Spices
  • Chocolate

If you`re looking for a smooth and seamless digestion, consider taking foods rich in fiber. Fibrous foods not only lessen the chances of reflux and obstruction to occur, but they fight bad breath.

Additionally, fibrous meals are known to keep you “full” for longer, and therefore, might be instrumental in your weight management.

Seek Medication

There are several types of OTC and prescription-strength medications known to treat GERD. Some of the medications include;

  • Histamine blockers
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Antacids, such as TUMS and Mylanta

However, you should be aware that some of these medications can lead to a dry mouth, and you, should, therefore, consult with your doctor before you take these medications.

By the way, you might also like our other articles, e.g. bad breath in children, morning breath.

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