Gastroenterologist Questions Gastroenterologist

Halitosis that won’t go away?

I’m a 26-year-old female with a bad case of halitosis that I can't seem to get rid of. I’ve done all the obvious things and visited my dentist to try and get help but he doesn’t think the issue is from my mouth. I have very good dental hygiene, floss, brush twice, use mouthwash and a tongue scraper but it’s doesn’t help with the halitosis. The dentist says my teeth and gums are in very good shape and I have no pain whatsoever, in fact, I haven’t had any issue with my teeth ever because I’m so religious about dental hygiene. I have a white tongue but scraping it does nothing, and the color varies from thick white to almost pinkish, but the pattern doesn’t change. I’ve had tests run and it’s not a fungal infection.

He recommended I go to a doctor to check out if the issue originates from my gut/intestines. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease about 3-4 years ago but when I asked my doctor if halitosis is a side effect of it, he said that neither it nor the medication I’m on can be the cause. I’ve had halitosis since before my diagnosis and before I started taking any medication. I’m not taking any antibiotics. My doctor did, however, order an upper endoscopy and I don’t have Gastroesophageal reflux disease (I get a really acidic taste in my mouth as soon as I eat anything sweet too) but he doesn’t know what else it could be and I’ve got no further help.

I have tried everything I could find on the internet, I’m taking probiotics, I’ve tried the candida diet, currently, I’m cutting out sugars, caffeine, red meats, and all preservative foods. I’ve seen no improvements. I’ve also had my tonsils removed when I was about 11 or 12.

I’m going back to the doctor again next week but I’m hoping I could get some help on here if anyone has seen a similar case and suspects what it could be. My doctor has been baffled and at this point, I feel hopeless and helpless. This has been a nightmare for me and has had a horrible effect on my social life and I can’t wait to get rid of it.

Female | 26 years old
Complaint duration: Years
Medications: azathioprine
Conditions: crohn's disease

2 Answers

Almost certainly the white coating of the tongue is related to the halitosis. The question then is why you have the white coating of the tongue. Firstly, I do not think you can exclude reflux just because the endoscopy is unrevealing. An esophageal monitor over a day could identify reflux and a motility which is a much shorter test could strongly suggest reflux. Crohn’s disease can affect the mouth although a white tongue is certainly atypical. As a last resort an oral surgeon could take a small biopsy. Finally, it is less likely given the tongue findings but possible the Crohn’s disease or its treatment is allowing absorption of odiferous gasses produced by GI microbes to be absorbed and then breathed out. There are some problematic breath tests looking for bacterial overgrowth available. Perhaps a trial of rifaxamin, which is very safe except for your wallet, would be helpful. A review of your Crohn’s medication might be revealing.
Good luck!!
Halitosis does not originate from the intestines. You provided a lot of information, but I would still need to ask more questions to see if I could determine the origin. Even just the basics need to be explored. Do other people notice it and complain? Or only you notice it? Unfortunately, it is doubtful that GI is the explanation so a GI doctor will not be able to help. You could try getting an opinion from an oral surgeon or ENT specialist.