Dentist Questions Acid reflux

Is reflux giving me bad breath?

I noticed a change in my breath about 2 years ago. I have great oral health, I floss every day and brush my teeth and tongue twice daily, but that did not solve anything. My husband embarrassingly agreed that my breath has an odor to it. The only thing that has changed in the last couple of years is my digestive health. I have been unsuccessfully fighting reflux which seems to happen a couple of times a day. I have tried Nexium but that has not worked too well. Could reflux be the cause of my bad breath?

23 Answers

Yes it can. Also get checked out for sleep apnea which is a large cause of gastric reflux called GERD
Hmm, i would see your dentist and have your gums evaluated. Sometimes even though you are doing everything possible but there is hard calculus(tartar) under the gums that is contributing to the bad breath. You also may have some tonsillitis (stones in your tonsils) that may be contributing to the bad breath. Best thing would be to first see your dentist. Post nasal drip can cause some bad breath as well.
Yes, acid reflux or GERD can cause halitosis, bad breath
Yes. Try a mouth wash called Breath RX
Just a few questions you could ask yourself: do you brush the very very back of the tongue? When was the last time you had a dental cleaning? The odor causing bacteria related to the tongue are from the very back where there are large fungiform papilla the shape of a mushroom. The sulfur odor causing bacteria are under those papilla. You almost have to gag to get to them. There is a rinse I recommend called Closys and you can gargle with that to help eradicate the bacteria. Gum disease can also cause odor and it is possible to have even though you brush and floss. Gum disease develops under the gums and brushing and flossing will not remove anything past 1mm under the gum which is why regular dental cleanings is a must. I do not know how often you visit with your hygienist but bacteria that causes gum disease recolonize in three months so waiting 6 months is a long time. I highly recommend all my patients have a cleaning every 3-4 months. Reflux can cause bad breath and, even worse, enamel and esophageal erosion which can lead to cancer.
There are several reasons why you can have bad breath or unwanted odor. There are certain bacteria's that involved but acid reflux can certainly be a cause as well. I would recommend drinking more alkaline water and help maintain oral (mouth) PH to be more neutral or alkaline than acidic. See if that helps restore your breath.
Yes. Your reflux can and does directly effect your mouth and can contribute to bad breath. This is best discussed with your physician regarding the reflux. Usually, once the reflux has been controlled, the bad breath should subside.

Mark Johnson
There are many things that can cause bad breath. I'll just mention some related to digestive system. One would be whatever your diet is. So if you eat Garlic and onions could affect your breath. Also the reflux too. So you should get your doctor to check it and prescribe you the right meds. Eating parsley and lemons also help to change the breath.
Sinus issues, like post nasal drip, can also cause bad breath. First get the reflux under control and take it from there.
The only way to see if the badbreath is from volatile sulfer compounds which come from bacteria in the mouth or sinus is with a Halimeter. If that is negative then it could be systemic in origin or your teflux contributing or combination therof.
The most common cause of bad breath is gum disease, but also know that your diet can have an effect. Some foods will cause bad breath. Stomach issues can also cause halitosis. Certain medications also have this effect. Gastric reflux is highly acidic and can also wear down the enamel of your teeth. Getting the reflux in check is very important.
It certainly is a possibility. Bad breath can be caused by several things. Reflux is one. Any digestive problem, actually, can influence breath. Diabetes is another. Post-nasal drip is a third. Also, tonsil stones. Don't just brush your tongue. Get yourself a tongue scraper which will do a far better job of cleaning your tongue. Check with a gastroenterologist. If he rules out digestive problems, an ENT can rule out problems on his end.
Yes, reflux & other digestive issues can affect your breath. If your oral hygiene is great & you have no dental issues after being examined by a dentist, check with your primary care physician about it. You may need something other than Nexium. Your doctor can provide more insight.
Reflux causing bad breath is a remote possibility. Also you should be
checked by a dentist for signs of gum disease and/or failing dental work.
If all else fails try using either a mouthrinse containing chlorine dioxide
(Oxyftesh) or else use the Dental Herb products. A bacterial analysis can
also be made using a saliva samples a properly trained dentist for
additional information.
Good Luck
To Whom it may concern,

You are right. Chronic gastro-esophageal reflux Disease (GERD) CAN cause bad breath. The food digested is broken down by bacteria in your gut. The back flow of undigested food, the bacteria, and the broken down food up your esophagus emits an odor causing bad breath and of course and dissolve and erode your teeth. Speak with your primary physician about going on an H2 blocker or Proton pump inhibitor for serious GERD. This will reduce the acidity of the contents of your reflux but you also have to make some lifestyle adjustments. As you said, just taking Nexium might decrease discomfort but won=E2=80=99t remove the bad breath issue. Some adjustments you can try are listed below:=20

1) stop smoking (if applicable)- smoking loosens the musculature at the junction of you stomach and esophagus (decreases lower esophageal tone) making it easier to reflux contents
2) wait 2 - 3 hours after eating before laying down to avoid back flow - allow gravity to help keep the contents down
3) eat smaller meals rather then one large dinner
4) try chewing gum or mint losanges to help contents stay down and to hep freshen breath
5) Try brushing your tongue more often after meals.

Hope this helps.
Dr. Jeff Litman
Daley Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery associates
I would have my gastroenterologist investigate the reflex but also be mindful that a condition known as xerostomia adds to the condition by way of poor secretions by the salivary glands. This is an endocrine problem for an endocrinologist and the method of Investigation might also involve scraping the tongue to determine if the fibers are too dry or secreting an acidic composition that does not aid in digestion and breakdown of foods in the mouth as we ingest. A combination of all three of these may lead to a bad taste in the mouth and halitosis. In addition wisdom teeth and sinus infection with post nasal drip can also amplify the problem. Mouthwash will not solve these topically and further investigation may be warranted until relief is achieved.
If you are flossing daily and brushing well, then the cause of any halitosis is probably not bacterial (which is the most offensive). It is possible for breath problems to arise from the back of the throat or even from what we eat, but usually these are not strong odors. A lot of breath problems that are not caused by bacteria are related to dry mouth. If your mouth feels dryer than normal, your breath can stale. I would recommend that you chew sugar free gum more frequently to stimulate saliva. You can also try Listerine strips and drinking more water helps with stale breath. I notice in my practice, a lot of patients think that they have bad breath, but I cannot detect a problem.
Yes! Acid reflux definitely causes bad breath. There are other alternatives to Nexium, I would seek an ENT specialist opinion regarding this matter.
You are correct. Along with periodontal disease, acid reflux also contributes to bad breath. If you need a dentist, call the office of Dr. Brad Emery, Dr. Nicholas Emery and Dr. Carol Scuro, at 585-247-7110. Or check out our website at
Acid reflux is often caused by sleep related problems(sleep apnea)You may want to have that checked.
Bad breath comes from 1 of 3 sources: the mouth, the sinuses, or the stomach. In the mouth, bad odors can come from tooth cavities, infected teeth/gums, or bacteria embedded in the tongue. These causes of bad breath can all be treated by your dentist. Bad odors can also come from the sinus (sinus infection, sinus congestion, sinus drainage) which can be treated by your ENT. Finally, bad odors can come from the stomach (reflux) which can be treated by your internist or GI doctor.
If oral health and diet are not a factor, then a systemic condition like acid reflux could be the cause of mouth odors. Mouth rinses, breath mints or other oral hygiene aids won't be helpful. It would be the best for you to consult your physician regarding recommendations to treat acid reflux or GERD.

For patients with GERD, we also recommend that they use Proenamel toothpaste. It is especially formulated for acidic mouths which are more prone to erosion and accelerated wear.