Why Does Your Breath Smell Like Poop?
Think your breath smells like poop? What if your child’s breath smells like poop? No, it’s not a joke. There are actual, real medical conditions that can make a person’s breath smell like feces.
Thankfully, it’s not a common condition. But on the other hand, that can mean it’s even more embarrassing to talk to your dentist about it and harder to find answers to cure your super-sensitive issue! Understanding all of the possible causes can help you know how to treat it and if you need to see a medical doctor.
What Could It Be? Common Causes
1) Poor Oral Hygiene
Consider adding a tongue scraper to your brushing and flossing routine. Also, use an alcohol-free mouthwash to rinse and gargle. It’s also a good idea to schedule regular professional cleanings. Learn more about proper brushing and flossing here!
It’s no secret that some foods can be stinky, either while you’re eating them or hours later. Even if nobody is around, we know you’re burping at some point. But when your breath smells like poop or your child’s breath smells like poop, that little silent blast of gas can hover in the room and cause some serious social consequences.
Foul odor immediately or up to several hours after eating.
Everyone reacts to foods differently. If eggs, Brussels sprouts, or asparagus are known for having some odorous after-effects, then time when you eat them to be when you’re not going to be around other people. Or just don’t eat them at all. Get your greens and your proteins some other way!
3) Bowel Obstruction
Abdominal pain or bloating, vomiting, and being unable to pass gas. In rare situations, people have been known to vomit feces. Since fecal mater gets blocked inside of your body, the odor can, well, make its way up and out of your mouth (making your breath smell like poo.)
Depending on the severity of your bowel blockage, your doctor may have to perform surgery. Usually they’ll order some type of diagnostic scan to see how bad it is first.
4) Nasal Congestion Or Sinusitis
Having a post-nasal drip caused by sinus infections or allergies can lead to pretty pungent breath. Even if you’re taking great care of your mouth, the odor could be coming from the back of your throat!
Decongestants, antihistamines, allergy medications (over-the-counter) or working with your doctor to determine if prescription drugs are necessary.
Bad bouts of nausea and vomiting can cause a serious stench. Between the partially digested food and stomach bile that you’re throwing up, it’s likely to smell like rotten eggs and make your breath smell like poop. Stomach acids can also do a number to your tooth enamel, causing erosion and weaker teeth. If your child’s breath smells like poop well after vomiting, there are steps that can help.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You’re not just nauseous; you’re actively throwing up. It could be from something you ate, a stomach virus, or even due to morning sickness.
This is super important. Do NOT brush your teeth immediately after throwing up. When you do, it rubs all of those stomach acids across your teeth and can erode your enamel over time. Instead, the best thing to do is rinse your mouth out really good with water and – if you can stomach it – a fluoride mouthwash afterwards.
6) Abscessed Tooth
Abscessed teeth can cause a foul, pungent odor in your mouth each time the fistula (the swollen, pimple-like sore) starts to drain. When that happens, you might feel like it makes your breath smell like poop.
Abscessed tooth symptoms can come and go, depending on the person. Usually you’ll see and taste some type of drainage coming from the tooth, with a fistula on the gums just next to it. Pain and swelling are common.
Most abscessed teeth require endodontic treatment (aka “root canal therapy”). But if the tooth is so badly infected or eroded that it’s not possible to repair, your dentist will recommend having it extracted.
7) Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Any time someone is experiencing kidney disease, it alters levels of ammonia and other toxins inside of their body. As a result, they can experience weird odors such as making their breath stink. Basically, it boils down to your body’s inability to filter out toxins and waste products.
Somebody that’s in the most aggressive/end stages of kidney disease will usually have to undergo dialysis, which is where the blood is artificially filtered. A kidney transplant might also be necessary.
8) Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Reflux disease or “GERD” can be severely life-altering while other people may never even realize that they have it! If your breath smells like poop, pay attention to GI symptoms to determine if acid reflux disease is the source. If your child’s breath smells like poop but they’re not able to explain their other symptoms to you, ask their pediatrician about ruling out GERD as the factor.
Dietary changes such as eating smaller meals, avoiding certain types of foods, and over-the-counter or prescription medication for acid reflux.
This condition is what happens when someone has an electrolyte, insulin, or protein imbalance caused by their diet or liver condition. For instance, someone who eats a keto diet might find that too much protein changes their body’s metabolism so that they’re putting off too much ammonia, which in turn gives their breath a weird odor. Usually, ketoacidosis affects people with diabetes because of insulin and blood sugar irregularities.
Confusion, frequent urination, excess thirst, elevated blood glucose levels, high ketones in urine tests, a “Juicy Fruit” scent to your breath, dry mouth, and abdominal pain.
10) Liver Failure
Just like your body needs your kidneys to filter out toxins, it needs your liver to do the same. Someone with liver disease may not realize there’s a problem until it’s more advanced in stage. Knowing the warning signs is important because of how hard it can be to diagnose.
How To Treat Bad Breath At Home
Let’s consider for a minute that your breath smells like poop and it’s not from a medical issue like bowel obstruction or reflux disease. Or maybe your breath smells like poop because they just threw up and you really need to do something so that you’re not gagging either. Now that all of those disclaimers are out of the way here are some DIY steps to take to help get rid of that poo/feces scent.
- Rinse your mouth out with water. This is especially important if you just threw up and there’s stomach acids inside of your mouth.
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash to rinse and gargle. Preferably one that contains essential oils.
- Clean your tongue at least once a day with a tongue scraper or toothbrush.
- Address any nasal drainage, congestion, or allergies with over-the-counter medication.
- Floss daily and brush twice per day.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Schedule regular cleanings to stay on top of tartar buildup and prevent smells caused by periodontal disease.
- Remove tonsil stones
Overcoming Smelly Breath
Think your or someone else’s breath smells like poop? That’s not normal. If your child’s breath smells like poop or there’s some type of a fecal odor coming from someone’s mouth, it usually means there’s a serious medical issue going on (ranging from an obstructed bowel/bowel blockage to reflux disease.)
Occasionally, it’s something like the food you ate or throwing up partially digested food, but usually a feces-like smell coming from your mouth means that you need to see a doctor!
teethtalkgirl content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or medical doctor to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.
Our medical affairs team works hard to ensure the accuracy and integrity by cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).International journal of oral science. Halitosis: the multidisciplinary approach.. International journal of oral science. NaN Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3412664/. April 10, 2020 Medical University of South Carolina. Small Bowel Obstruction. Medical University of South Carolina. NaN Available at: https://muschealth.org/medical-services/ddc/patients/digestive-diseases/small-intestine/small-bowel-obstruction. April 10, 2020 CDC. Sinus Infection (Sinusitis). CDC. NaN Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/sinus-infection.html. April 10, 2020 Mayo Clinic. Chronic kidney disease. Mayo Clinic. NaN Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-kidney-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354521. April 10, 2020 Mayo Clinic. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Mayo Clinic. NaN Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/symptoms-causes/syc-20361940. April 10, 2020 American Diabetes Association. Diabetes & DKA (Ketoacidosis). American Diabetes Association. NaN Available at: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/dka-ketoacidosis-ketones. April 10, 2020 Johns Hopkins Medicine. Chronic Liver Disease/Cirrhosis. Johns Hopkins Medicine. NaN Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/chronic-liver-disease-cirrhosis. April 10, 2020 Cleveland Clinic. Liver Failure. Cleveland Clinic. NaN Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17819-liver-failure#management-and-treatment. April 10, 2020