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How to Treat Bad Breath in Teens

Halitosis (bad breath) is a common dental problem for teenagers.


Teenagers are people aged 13-19 who are in the stage of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. While the terms adolescence and teenager may be used interchangeably, adolescence refers to psychological and biological development while teenager refers to a consumer population. Being a teen isn't easy. Some of the developmental hurdles involved in the transitional stage of a teen include:

  • Adjusting and feeling comfortable in one's own skin (hormonal and physical change)
  • Learning to make independent decisions from parents and other adult figures
  • Building valuable relationships with peers of the same or opposite sex

The adolescent population has special needs related to mental and physical health as part of their growing years. They also need support and some level of guidance to achieve the maturity to select a healthy life style and accepting responsibility for their overall health, which includes managing bad breath.

Cause of Bad Breath in Teenagers

Some teens have self-awareness of bad breath while other may not. It is important to address bad breath with your teen if you observe an unpleasant odor during a conversation or being near them. Elements contributing towards bad breath may include:

  • Tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs
  • Poor dental hygiene/Orthodontia (braces)
  • Gingivitis (gum disease)
  • Medications
  • Mouth infections or tooth decay
  • Bulimia
  • Diseases, cancer, or metabolic disorders

Treating Bad Breath in Teens

The best way to prevent bad breath is having a good hygiene (brushing twice a day and flossing daily). Other methods:

  • Use antibacterial mouth rinse
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Address medical issues and discuss treatment options with one's primary doctor.
  • If the teen is under orthodontic care, have the orthodontist demonstrate how to brush and floss around the brackets and wires.
  • Brush the tongue
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Replace the toothbrush regularly

If the bad breath does not go away, bring it up at the teen's next check-up with the dentist or primary physician to identify underlying cause.