Can a stomach ulcer give you bad breath?

It’s a very popular complaint of most patients when they have bad breath even after brushing their teeth,

Although the most common halitosis is related to poor oral hygiene, it can also have other origins, such as a problem with the digestive system. Specifically, with the stomach.



What happens in the stomach to cause halitosis?


The stomach is directly connected to the esophagus, which, in turn, is attached to the oral cavity so if there are any problems or malfunctions along the digestive tract, it can lead to bad breath.

The bacterium ‘ Helicobacter pylori ‘ is usually the cause of gastric infection that causes, among others, halitosis as its presence causes the generation of gases called volatile sulfur compounds, which among their characteristics is that of producing a bad smell.

Is my halitosis of gastric origin?

Gastric halitosis is not the most common. Approximately 90% of bad breath is of oral origin.

The rest, that 10%, is the one that has an extraoral origin, that is, it comes from a place that is not the mouth, such as the stomach, the respiratory system or other However, halitosis originating in the stomach is not the product of imagination (as some brand of mouthwash tries to spread, with great error, to sell their products).

Halitosis originating in the stomach exists and is easily diagnosed in consultation. However, the proportion of cases is not as high as the traditional belief indicates or as one might think if we consider that about 30% of the population manifests some type of gastric pathology. However, some strains of the stomach bacteria Helicobacter pylori are capable of producing volatile sulfur compounds.


The expert points out that it is important to detect the bacteria because it causes many gastric problems such as atopic gastritis, dyspepsia, GERD, and ulcers.

The most common signs to know that something is wrong are weight loss, anemia, and even the development of gastric cancer or the presence of polyps in the intestinal tract.

Is there any treatment to neutralize this bacteria?

For treatment, oral hygiene or dental care is not enough, special antibiotics must be prescribed accompanied by a proton pump inhibitor (PPI’s), such as ilaprazole, to help eradicate Helicobacter Pylori from the body.

Bad breath originating in the stomach has a safe and effective treatment. Some tests determine the presence of the bacteria ‘Helicobacter pylori’ in the body.

If the halitosis is of gastric origin, eliminating this bacteria will stop having bad breath. This confirms the relationship between infection and halitosis.

The dentist will be the professional who will be in charge of detecting if the halitosis is of extraoral origin. If so, he will be the one to refer you to the corresponding professional.

This treatment must be indicated and supervised by a doctor, who must monitor the patient until the necessary period is completed and follow the dietary-hygienic measures so that the infection can be controlled or eradicated.

Also read: Gastric Ulcers; know all about it and protecting methods.

How is it diagnosed?


The dentist will be in charge of detecting whether the halitosis is of oral or extraoral origin.

If it is extraoral (it occurs outside the mouth), your doctor will refer you to the corresponding doctor.
It is common for patients with suspected bad breath of stomach origin to request a digestive endoscopy to explore the esophagus and stomach.

Normally, the first test performed is a breath test (gas chromatography), to detect the presence of bacteria. Later, endoscopy can be useful when there are digestive symptoms for the diagnosis of associated pathology. All these tests will vary depending on the diagnostic method that the doctor considers most appropriate for each case.

Gas chromatography is the test of choice and although a person with halitosis may have some type of digestive pathology.

Often the origin of the halitosis found is another (eg: from the field of otorhinolaryngology). However, when there are associated digestive symptoms, digestive endoscopy can be useful in the diagnosis of some of the previously mentioned pathologies.

Other causes of halitosis:

  • Food:

The unpleasant odor is caused due to the presence of broken-down food particles in your oral cavity which increases the number of bacteria and then causes bad breath.

Eating some foods like onions, garlic, and certain spices can cause bad breath.

  • Tobacco products:

Smoking leaves an unpleasant smell in the oral cavity.

Smokers have a high possibility to have diseased gums as another source of bad breath.

  • Poor oral hygiene:

If you don’t brush and floss your teeth daily, particles will remain in your mouth and cause bad breath.

The tongue can also trap odor-producing bacteria if the patient doesn’t clean it regularly.

  • Dry mouth:

Saliva helps clean the mouth by removing odor-causing particles.

Dry mouth disease or xerostomia contributes to bad breath since it reduces saliva production.

Dry mouth occurs naturally during sleep and is responsible for bad morning breath, which is worse if you sleep with your mouth open.

Sometimes, there are some salivary gland problems or chronic diseases that can cause a chronic dry mouth.

  • Medicines:

Some medications contribute to dry mouth then indirectly cause bad breath. Others break down in the body releasing chemicals that the breath carries them.

  • Infections in the mouth:

Some surgical wounds can cause halitosis after oral surgery, such as tooth extraction, or because you have cavities, gum disease, or mouth sores.

  • Other conditions of the throat, mouth, and nose:

Sometimes, the tonsils are covered with small white stones that cause a bad odor.

It can be found in some cancer cases.

  • Diseases:

Such as some cancers and conditions such as metabolic disorders that can cause distinctive odorous breath.

Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux or GERD) has a relation with bad breath.

In young children, some foreign bodies can cause halitosis, such as a piece of food, lodged in one of the nostrils.

How can I decrease halitosis?


  • Brush your teeth after eating.

Take a toothbrush with you to work to use after eating.

Toothpaste with antibacterial properties can reduce odors from bad breath.

  • Floss at least once a day.

Removing the food particles which is found between the teeth and controls bad breath.

  • Brush your tongue.

Your tongue contains bacteria, and brushing it carefully can reduce the odor.

  • Clean your bridge or dentures thoroughly at least one time per day or as directed by your dentist.

If you have an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard, clean them every time you put them in your mouth as the dentist can recommend an effective cleaning product.

  • Avoid dry mouth.

Always drink plenty of water to keep the moisture in your mouth.

Chew gum or suck on candy (preferably unsweetened) to stimulate saliva.

For chronic dry mouth, your dentist or doctor may prescribe an artificial saliva preparation or an oral medication that stimulates the flow of saliva.

  • Adjust your diet.

Avoid foods like onions, garlic, and some spices that can cause bad breath.

Eating a lot of sugary foods has a relation to bad breath.

  • Buy a new toothbrush regularly.

Change your toothbrush every three to four months or so, and choose a brush with soft bristles.

  • Schedule regular dental checkups.

Visit your dentist regularly, usually twice a year, to have your teeth or dentures checked and cleaned.

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