4 Reasons Your Breath Smells Like Poop and What to Do About it

A man smelling his breath

Everyone has experienced bad breath at some point in their life. But did you know that the smell of your breath can tell you a lot about your overall health?

Breath that smells like poop is typically caused by poor oral hygiene and is usually nothing to worry about.

However, it can be an indicator of a more sever]e health concern. That’s why it’s important to know when bad breath is serious and requires ]professional medical attention.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at everything you need to know about bad breath, including common causes and treatment options to help you take care of your oral health.

Understanding Bad Breath

Bad breath — also known as halitosis — is a common condition that can affect anyone. It can be a temporary issue or a chronic problem that can have a significant impact on your daily life.

The primary cause of bad breath is bacteria that live in the mouth and feed on left-over food particles.

When feeding, the bacteria produce foul-smelling waste products that cause the breath to have an unpleasant odor.

Four Common Causes of Breath That Smells Like Poop

Poor oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of bad odors in the mouth – including breath that smells like poop.

When oral hygiene is neglected, it’s more likely that food particles remain in the mouth, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive in.

Poor oral hygiene habits also increases your risk of developing conditions like gum disease and tooth decay, which can worsen existing bad breath.

Gastrointestinal issues

If your breath has a distinct fecal odor, it might be caused by gastrointestinal problems.

Conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause stomach acid to reenter the mouth, causing bad breath.

More severe conditions — such as a bowel obstruction — can also cause breath to smell like poop due to a buildup and backflow of waste products in the digestive system.

If you suspect you have gastrointestinal issues, make an appointment with your doctor for a professional diagnosis and treatment..


Infections in the mouth or other parts of the body are common culprits of bad breath.

Oral infections — such as periodontitis or a tooth abscess — and respiratory tract issues — like sinus infections or bronchitis — can all cause bad breath due to an increase of bacteria in the mouth.

Conditions like systemic infections that impact the entire body and the digestive system can also lead to bad breath.

Diet and lifestyle factors

The diet you follow and the foods you eat can significantly impact the smell of your breath.

Diets especially high in protein and low in carbohydrates contribute to breath that smells like poop.

Consuming foods with strong odors — such as garlic or onions — can also lead to temporary bad breath.

Lifestyle factors contributing to bad breath include smoking and alcohol consumption, due to the chemicals they introduce into the mouth.

Health Implications of Bad Breath

Oral health concerns

Bad breath is often linked to various oral health issues, including:

  • Plaque buildup

  • Poor oral hygiene

  • The presence of cavities

  • Gum disease

  • Periodontitis

These conditions can worsen if left untreated, which can lead to tooth decay and loss, and breath that smells even worse due to rotting tissue in the mouth.

This can significantly impact your quality of life by affecting factors like social interactions, diet, and overall health.

Underlying medical conditions

Experiencing persistent bouts of bad breath can be an indication of underlying health conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes

  • Ketoacidosis, a severe complication of type 1 diabetes

  • Kidney or liver disease

  • Respiratory tract infections

  • GERD

  • Digestive tract disorders like irritable bowel disease (IBD), intolerances, and sensitivities

Many of these conditions can lead to severe negative effects on your well-being and may be life-threatening if left untreated. Psychological and social impact

The effects of bad breath can severely impact your psychological and social well-being, often affecting confidence, self-esteem, and the ability to interact with others.

This can lead to social withdrawal, which can increase feelings of anxiety, depression, embarrassment, and rejection.

People suffering from chronic bad breath may also avoid close contact, intimate relationships, and professional engagements.

Over time, this can negatively affect their personal life and career opportunities.

How Can I Treat Breath That Smells Like Poop?

Improving your oral hygiene

The key to better-smelling breath is improving and maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. This includes:

  • Brushing and flossing: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily to remove food particles and plaque between your teeth and gum line.

  • Tongue cleaning: Clean your tongue regularly with a tongue scraper or toothbrush to remove bacteria and food particles.

  • Regular dental visits: Visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and professional cleaning. Your dentist can also identify and treat periodontal disease or other oral health issues that may be causing bad breath.

Dietary and lifestyle adjustments

Your diet and lifestyle habits can heavily impact the smell of your breath. Making the following adjustments can help you avoid unpleasant breath odor:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist and encourage the production of saliva, which cleanses the mouth.

  • Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can improve overall health and reduce bad breath. Avoid excessive intake of foods known to cause bad breath, like onions, garlic, and spicy foods.

  • Cut down on certain beverages: Limiting your intake of coffee, alcohol, and other beverages that cause dry mouth can help prevent bad breath.

  • Quit smoking: Tobacco products contribute to bad breath and tooth decay, which can worsen existing odors. Quitting smoking can improve the smell of your breath and positively impact your overall health.

Home remedies and over-the-counter solutions

Various home remedies and OTC solutions can enhance your oral hygiene routine and make it more effective. These options include:

  • Mouthwash: Use an antibacterial or antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria that cause bad breath. Look for products containing chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride, or essential oils, and avoid those with alcohol that could strip fluoride from the teeth.

  • Chewing gum: Sugar-free chewing gum can stimulate saliva production, helping to wash away food particles and bacteria.

  • Natural remedies: Natural remedies like chewing fresh parsley, mint, or fennel seeds can help neutralize bad breath for short periods.

Medical interventions

If bad breath persists despite improving your oral hygiene and diet, you may need to consult your doctor. They might recommend the following interventions:

  • Dental treatment: Treatment for gum disease, cavities, or other oral health issues can eliminate bad breath caused by these conditions. Your dentist will likely perform these procedures, which will be specific to the issue they treat.

  • Medical evaluation: If an underlying medical condition is suspected — such as GERD, diabetes, or a gastrointestinal issue — addressing the root cause can improve bad breath. This may involve prescription medications, dietary adjustments, or other treatments specific to the condition.

When Should You See a Doctor About Bad Breath?

While most cases of bad breath can be managed without the need for medical intervention, there are circumstances where seeking professional advice is necessary.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, speak to a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Persistent bad breath despite good oral hygiene

  • Signs of gum diseases, such as puffy, red, bleeding, or receding gums

  • Unexplained weight loss or night sweats

  • Accompanying symptoms like heartburn, stomach issues, persistent dry mouth, sore throat, and sinus infection pain

It’s also important to see a doctor if your child has bad breath that doesn’t improve with basic oral hygiene, as this may indicate an underlying issue.

Consulting your healthcare provider about persistent bad breath can help you get the right treatment to prevent complications that could negatively affect your life.

Where Can You Learn More About Maintaining Oral Health?

If you’re concerned about bad breath or want to know more about improving your health, LifeMD is here to help.

A team of medical professionals can assist you with information and provide guidance on proper care and hygiene to help you avoid further complications.

Make an appointment with LifeMD today to learn more about taking care of your oral health — all from the comfort of your home.

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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