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Treatments for Bad Breath in Teenagers

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Bad breath is a common problem for teens and can be embarrassing in social situations. Treatment starts with understanding, so knowing the causes can help you learn how to treat bad breath in teenagers and prevent it from happening again. Also known as halitosis, bad breath has many causes.

The National Health Portal of India explains that bad breath or Halitosis (oral malodour) is an unpleasant odour of the mouth. It is a common complaint for both genders and for all age groups. Mild transient bad breath which often arises after sleep is common and generally not regarded as halitosis. It is termed as “morning halitosis.” Halitosis has numerous causes and origins.

Poor Oral hygiene

Sometimes it may be a consequence of lifestyle. If you don't brush and floss daily, food particles accumulate in between your teeth and on tongue; bacteria grow on the food left in your mouth and leave foul-smelling waste products (volatile sulphur compounds) behind, which lead to bad breath.

Lack of regular tongue cleaning, may be a cause of bad breath despite proper brushing and flossing.

Dietary Habits: Intake of certain foods and drinks such as onion, garlic, spices etc. and certain habits such as smoking, using tobacco products, drinking alcohol cause halitosis. Fasting or starvation can also cause bad breath.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Predictably, most bad breath starts in the mouth, so a very easy way to treat or prevent halitosis is by brushing and flossing. Unfortunately, many teens do not clean their mouths well enough to get all the benefits of these practices. In order to remove the sticky plaque that promotes bacteria and food particles, brushing needs to be done for at least two minutes, twice per day, along with flossing at least once daily. The tongue should be cleaned as well, as it is a common source of mouth odour.

The Indian Dental Association recommends to clean the surface of the tongue daily, a professional tongue cleaner can remove countless bacteria that otherwise live, particularly on the rougher top surface of tongue. Keep in mind that mouthwash can help prevent bad breath, but it only eliminates it temporarily.

Dentist Visits for Infections

When teenagers don't take good care of their mouths, infections can occur and cause odour. Bacteria in the mouth can contribute to infections occurring around wisdom teeth when they erupt, or create cavities on existing teeth. The combination of bacteria and hormonal changes can put teens at greater risk for gum infections as well. Only a dentist can determine if an infection exists.

Even if proper oral hygiene is being followed daily, a dentist or dental hygienist should be seen regularly (every six months) for check-ups and professional cleanings to maintain a healthy mouth. Once the cause of your halitosis is established, recommendations can be made on how to treat bad breath.

Food Choices

Any food can produce odour-causing bacteria, but teens often eat sugary foods, which contribute to the sticky layer of plaque on teeth that lets bacteria build up over time. This can increase their risk for tooth decay, which in turn increases the risk for 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 difficult. Braces that hinder your teen's ability to brush and floss effectively can cause plaque and odorous foods to fester in hard-to-reach places. Every nook and cranny of braces should be cleaned. Removable retainers should also be cleaned thoroughly each time brushing occurs. Ask your orthodontist to see if there's a technique they know works well.

Stop Smoking

For teens who smoke, cigarettes and other tobacco products are a major contributor of bad breath. Smoking, in addition to being terrible for your health, 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 kick the habit if you want to help freshen your breath and stay healthy.

Prevent Dry Mouth

Habits such as smoking can also make the mouth dry, allowing bacteria to survive, leading to bad breath. The Indian Dental Association notes that medicines prescribed for various diseases not only cure the health problems but many a times also cause diverse side effects including oral problems. The most common side effect caused due to medicines and extreme therapies is dry mouth (an insufficient supply of saliva). ;Saliva helps clean the mouth by clearing away food particles, and there are numerous products to help drive the production of this necessary moisture. These can come in the form of toothpaste, mouthwash, spray or chewing gum. A dentist or dental hygienist should be consulted about these dry mouth remedies before use.

See A Medical Professional

If your dentist has eliminated dental issues as a potential cause of halitosis, and determined that your mouth is healthy despite a persistent smell, 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. Make sure 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 to see your dentist 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.