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Teenagers and Bad Breath

Helping Teens Battle Bad Breath


Updated: September 10, 2007

Teenagers have enough to worry about without adding bad breath to the list. Unfortunately, bad breath is a very common dental problem that affects millions of people every day. Since teenagers are at a stage in their lives where they rely heavily on how they are perceived by others, bad breath can be an overwhelming obstacle for a teenager.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath can be caused by many factors including poor oral hygiene, particular foods, underlying dental or medical conditions, dry mouth and certain lifestyle changes and choices.

Poor oral hygiene is the primary cause of bad breath. Bacteria from food particles that remain on or in between the teeth can become rotten and emit a foul smell. Flossing daily and brushing twice a day can prevent this from happening.

Strong and spicy foods can also cause bad breath. This is because the odor from these foods is expelled from our lungs after the foods are absorbed into the bloodstream.

According to dental studies, about 85% of people with persistent bad breath (also known as halitosis) have a dental condition that is to blame. These conditions could be one or more of the following:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities
  • Oral cancer
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Bacteria on the tongue
  • It is important to rule out any medical or dental problems for chronic bad breath. If bad breath is the cause of a dental condition, mouthwash will only mask the odor and not cure it.

    Lifestyle changes and choices are also contributing factors for bad breath, especially with teens. Tobacco use, eating disorders and braces are some examples of these changes and choices.

    The Battle Against Bad Breath

    Once dental or medical problems have been ruled out, the following steps can help teenagers get rid of bad breath for good:

    1. Don’t use tobacco products
    2. Eat a healthy and nutritious diet
    3. Visit the dentist for regular check ups
    4. Floss at least once a day
    5. Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day
    Teenagers who wear braces should take extra care in practicing good oral hygiene because food particles can become easily trapped in the braces.

    How to Brush Your Teeth With Braces

    How to Floss Your Teeth With Braces

    Bad Breath and Oral Hygiene

    It is essential for teenagers to learn the benefits of good oral hygiene early in life. Good oral hygiene is often the key to preventing and eliminating bad breath, along with many other dental problems.


    The American Dental Association; The Academy of General Dentistry; Massachusetts General Hospital for Children 12 August 2007.

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