how to treat bad breath in teenagers - colgate au

How to Treat Bad Breath in Teenagers

Bad breath (technically called halitosis) is a common problem that can be socially embarrassing for anyone. But given the nature of teens, anything that could affect their social life can amplify their distress. To treat bad breath in teenagers, you must learn what has caused the underlying condition and prevent it from happening again.

According to Raising Children Network, most children and teens wake up with bad breath. However, it usually goes away after breakfast and cleaning their teeth. This sort of bad breath is nothing to worry about. But if your teen has a problem that lingers, there are other causes of bad breath, such as:

  • a blocked nose
  • sinusitis
  • throat or mouth infections
  • gum disease
  • tooth decay
  • abscesses

Additionally, certain behaviours or activities could be contributing to a teenager’s bad breath. For example, a high-protein diet, anorexia and smoking can all contribute to halitosis. Failing to clean their orthodontic devices, e.g., braces, adequately, or simply not brushing their teeth, could also be the culprit.

Practice good oral hygiene

Predictably, most bad breath starts in the mouth. Hence, an easy way to treat or prevent halitosis is by brushing and flossing. Unfortunately, many teens do not clean their mouths well enough to benefit from these practices. To remove the sticky plaque that promotes bacteria and food particles, they need to brush for at least two minutes, twice daily, and floss at least once daily. They should clean their tongue as well, as it is a common source of mouth odour. Keep in mind that mouthwash can help prevent bad breath, but it only temporarily eliminates the problem.

Dental visits for infections

When teenagers don’t take good care of their mouth, infections can occur, which can cause an odour. Bacterial build up in the mouth can contribute to infections occurring around erupting wisdom teeth or create cavities in existing teeth. The combination of bacteria and hormonal changes can put teens at greater risk for gum infections as well. A dental professional can determine if an infection exists.

Even if your teen follows proper oral hygiene daily, a dental professional should be seen regularly for checkups and professional cleanings to maintain a healthy mouth. Once you’ve established the cause of their halitosis, your dental professional can make recommendations on how to treat it.

Food choices

Teens often eat sugary foods, and sugars contribute to the sticky layer of plaque on teeth that is made up of bacteria and their "glue-like" exudate. This can increase their risk of tooth decay, which in turn increases the risk of bad breath. Limit sweets and replace them with crunchy fruits and vegetables to increase saliva and help wash away bacteria and food debris before they cause a problem.

Braces and retainers

Orthodontic treatments are common for teenagers, and that means brushing can become more complex. Braces that hinder your teen’s ability to brush and floss effectively can cause plaque and odorous foods to rot in hard-to-reach places. Your teen will need to clean every nook and cranny of their braces. Removable retainers should also be cleaned thoroughly each time brushing occurs. Ask your orthodontist to see if there’s a technique they recommend.

Stop smoking

For teens who smoke, cigarettes and other tobacco products are a major contributor to bad breath. Besides being terrible for your health, smoking leaves a distinct, foul odour that everyone recognises. Tobacco smoke enters the lungs and comes out with each breath, so this odour, in particular, cannot be fixed by brushing or mouthwash. So encourage your teen to quit this dangerous habit if they want to freshen their breath and stay healthy.

Prevent dry mouth

Habits such as smoking can also make the mouth dry, allowing bacteria to thrive, leading to bad breath. But dry mouth can also be caused by drugs or prescription medications. According to Better Health Victoria, there are over 600 drugs and medications, both legal and illegal, known to cause a dry mouth. For example, decongestants, analgesics, sedatives and antidepressants can all dry the mouth.

Saliva helps clean the mouth by clearing away food particles. There are numerous products to help alleviate the lack of this necessary moisture. These can come in the form of toothpaste, mouthwash, spray or chewing gum. Consult a dental professional regarding these dry mouth remedies for their recommendation.

See a medical professional

Suppose your dentist has eliminated dental issues as a potential cause of halitosis and determined that your teenager’s mouth is healthy despite a persistent smell. In that case, you should see a medical professional. Medical conditions that can cause bad breath include respiratory infections and inflammation of the sinuses, lungs or throat. Other disorders that may cause halitosis include diabetes, some liver diseases and kidney disease.

Encourage your teen to practice healthy habits to reduce, eliminate or prevent bad breath before it sets in. If the condition persists and you suspect a problem, make sure you take them to their dental professional to determine if you have a more serious dental or medical issue.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.