There are several causes of bad breath like poor oral hygiene, dry mouth which is caused by breathing through mouth, dehydration, sinus infection, respiratory tract infection, smoking, as well as eating pungent foods, like, garlic, coffee, onion, and certain varieties of fish. Most of these causes are easily curable, however, bad breath caused due to acid reflux is a little difficult to cure. It is very important to understand the connection between acid reflux and foul-smelling breath, if you want to get rid of the latter.
How does Acid Reflux Cause Bad Breath?
Acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a condition, in which, the fluid contents of the stomach flow back or reflux into the esophagus. This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a kind of valve between the esophagus and the stomach, does not work properly. When the valve does not close tightly, the regurgitated contents of the stomach, generally containing acid and pepsin, an enzyme that starts digestion of protein in the stomach, get pushed up into the esophagus, and we can feel the acid reach the back of our throat. It is this, that causes the sensation of heartburn.
The contents of the stomach are in an acidic environment, so that the food ingested can be broken down for digestion. If sufficient time has elapsed since the consumption of food, the stomach contents return into the esophagus, with a repellent smell, like in case of vomit, pointing to a link between acid reflux and foul breath. Bacteria and other enzymes also come from the stomach, along with the acid, and contribute to the foul odor. This unpleasant odor reaches the throat and mouth causing bad smelling breath. The problem is compounded when we eat onion, garlic, or spicy food. Bad breath due to GERD is more difficult to control, as no amount of mint and mouth freshener is of any help. The only way to banish it, is to completely get rid of this condition.
When a person is suffering from GERD, the contents of the stomach, which are acidic in nature, repeatedly come in contact with the delicate lining of the esophagus. When this occurs, over a period, the lining of the esophagus gets damaged. Due to this continuous contact of the acidic fluid, the tissue lining does not get enough time to heal entirely, and a dead tissue is produced. This dead tissue accumulates over time and releases an unpleasant odor, which in turn, results in bad smelling breath.
One of the ways to cure bad breath from acid reflux, is to make some changes in one's diet. One might not like the idea of giving up on spicy food altogether, but these foods can, sometimes, cause bad smelling breath as well as acid reflux. If we don't want to completely eliminate these foods from our diet, we should at least try cutting down their consumption. The stomach produces that much acid, as is required to digest food at that moment. If more food is present, more acid is required. So, portion control is very important. If you're having a spicy, juicy piece of steak, just reduce the portion. Another way to prevent GERD is to drink a sufficient amount of water throughout the day. This aids in the digestion process.
Some other natural cures for bad breath that emerges from acid reflux, include, consuming orange peel extract, fennel seeds, and parsley. Chewing star anise is also said to eliminate the foul odor from your breath. Whatever natural cure you are considering, always seek the advice of a qualified doctor before using it.
One way to check if you are suffering from foul breath is to lick the back of your hand and let it dry for a few minutes and then smell it. If there is an unpleasant odor, then you're suffering from bad breath.