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Teens and Bad Breath

When a teen develops bad breath, a condition also known as halitosis, it can be embarrassing. While practicing good oral care can help prevent bad breath, sometimes there is an underlying cause that needs treatment before the problem completely goes away. Taking care of your mouth involves everything from good dental hygiene to food choices, and there are plenty of things you can do to prevent and treat bad breath.

Causes of Bad Breath

About 90 percent of the time, the cause of bad breath originates in the mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some of the potential causes of bad breath include:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • A dry mouth
  • Diseases, such as kidney failure, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux and cancer
  • Sinus infections
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption

If you suspect you have an underlying condition that could be affecting your breath, talk to your doctor about getting tested and treated. In some cases, this might mean changing your diet or taking medication to combat the underlying disease.

Good Oral Hygiene

The most important dental hygiene practice you can employ is simply brushing your teeth, but many teens do not brush well enough to get all the benefit they can from this practice. When you brush, you should scrub your teeth for at least two minutes. Also, use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps build up your enamel – the outer surface of your teeth. Brush your tongue as well as your teeth, since bacteria can also build up on the tongue surface.

In addition to brushing your teeth, it is also important to floss before or after brushing. Flossing removes plaque that gets trapped between your teeth, eliminating another potential source of bad breath.

If you notice dental health problems that brushing and flossing don’t seem to get rid of, you should contact a dentist for a thorough teeth cleaning and evaluation. Even when you brush every day, you should still visit a dentist once or twice a year for a professional cleaning to help prevent both cavities and bad breath.
You don’t have to use mouthwash, but some teens like to use it to clean the mouth out temporarily. If you do use mouthwash, choose one with an antiseptic that kills mouth bacteria as well as plaque-reducing ingredients that help clean the surface of the teeth. Some teens also use sugarless gum to boost saliva production and keep the teeth clean between brushings.


For teens who smoke, cigarettes can be a major contributor to bad breath. Tobacco smoke not only affects the mouth, but also goes into the lungs and comes out with each breath, so halitosis that results from smoking can’t be fixed by brushing or mouthwash.Smoking also makes the mouth dry, which further contributes to the development of bad breath. If you have developed bad breath due to cigarette use and want help dealing with your smoking addiction, call 1-888-388-5605 to talk to someone about treatment strategies.

Food Choices

Proper nutrition can help keep your mouth in good shape and your breath smelling good. Eating sugary foods can increase your risk of tooth decay, which also increases the risk of developing bad breath. Sticky foods, such as raisins, caramel and peanut butter, can contribute both cavities and bad breath because they can form a sticky layer on the tooth surface that lets bacteria build up over a long period of time. On the other hand, crunchy fruits and vegetables offer plenty of nutrition while also gently scraping against the tooth surface and causing saliva production, which helps wash away any bacteria on the teeth. Including these foods in your diet might help reduce the chances of bad breath. By making healthy food choices, you’ll not only keep bad breath at bay, but also improve your overall health.

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