Brushing teeth might not be enough to get rid of bad breath.

Bad Breath in Teenagers

by Kay Ireland

Teens have enough awkward social situations to worry about, from dealing with members of the opposite sex to hormones that practically upend their bodies. The last thing your teen needs to worry about is how his breath smells. Unfortunately, you might be the unlucky recipient of your teen's not-so-sweet morning breath or notice that he has bad breath throughout the day. As a parent, you can quietly let your teen know about his bad breath in the privacy of your home so it doesn't affect him socially.


Your teen might be afflicted by more than just stinky breath first thing in the morning. Occasional, short-lived bad breath is caused by germs in the mouth, but certain conditions can cause bad breath all day long, even after proper oral hygiene. A less-than-pleasant odor from the mouth could be a sign of gum disease, dry mouth or medical conditions or medications that cause bad breath, notes the Women's and Children's Health Network. Bad breath can also be a side effect of smoking, so talk to your teen about the possibility that he's using tobacco to rule it out as a cause.


Your teen might not know that his breath is offensive and the wrong approach can leave him feeling more embarrassed and bristly -- after all, no one likes being told he has bad breath. Instead, take a more medical approach and talk about oral hygiene and how gum disease can cause stinky breath. Alternatively, try taking a humorous approach by saying something such as, "I'll get you breakfast as soon as you go take care of that breath!"

Lifestyle Changes

Your teen may have poor oral hygiene simply because he doesn't have the right tools on hand. If you think his bad breath could be a hygiene issue, take him to the drugstore and let him pick out a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash that he likes and ask him to commit to using it daily. Unfortunately, not all bad breath can be cured by a swig of mouthwash, so you'll need to explore other options if your teen's bad breath keeps coming back. Keeping his mouth moist is another way to ward off bad breath, so send your teen to school with a refillable water bottle. If your teen is a smoker, urge him to quit. Ensure him that he'll see a drastic change in the quality of his breath.

Medical Help

If your teen's bad breath is attributed to gum disease, head to the dentist. Your dentist can take a look, clean off excess plaque and suggest a treatment plan to get rid of the damage and the smell. If your dentist believes that your teen's mouth is healthy but the bad breath remains, check with your physician, suggests the American Dental Association. Bad breath could be the work of dry mouth, prescription medicine, health issues or halitosis -- the term for chronic bad breath. A doctor may be able to prescribe a treatment plan to tackle the causes of the bad breath so your teen can feel confident again.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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