You lean over to whisper something to your friend and you can tell by the look
on your friend's face that something is up. Could it be your breath? Maybe you shouldn't
have put extra onions on your hamburger at lunch. What's a kid with smelly breath
The good news is that bad breath happens to everyone once in a while. Let's find
out how to detect it, prevent it, and even treat it.
What's That Smell?
Bad breath is the common name for the medical condition known as halitosis
(say: hal-uh-TOE-sis). Many different things can cause halitosis — from not
brushing your teeth to
certain medical conditions.
Sometimes, a person's bad breath can blow you away — and he or she may not
realize there's a problem. There are tactful (nice) ways of letting someone know about
bad breath. You could offer mints or sugarless gum without having to say anything.
If you need to tell a friend he or she has bad breath, you could say that you understand
foods can cause bad breath because you've had it before yourself. By letting someone
know that bad breath isn't something unusual, you'll make your friend feel more comfortable
and less embarrassed about accepting your piece of chewing gum.
If you suspect your own breath is foul, ask someone who will give you an honest
answer without making fun of you. (Just don't ask your brother or sister — they
just might tell you your breath stinks even when it doesn't!)
Although everyone gets bad breath sometimes, if you have bad breath a lot, you
may need to visit your dentist
What Causes Bad Breath?
Here are three common causes of bad breath:
foods and drinks, such as garlic, onions, cheese, orange juice, and soda
poor dental hygiene (say: HI-jeen), meaning not brushing and
smoking and other tobacco use
Poor oral hygiene leads to bad breath because when food particles are left in your
mouth, they can rot and start to smell. The food bits may begin to collect bacteria,
which can be smelly, too.
Not brushing your teeth regularly will let plaque (a sticky, colorless film) build
up on your teeth. Plaque is a great place for bacteria to live and yet another reason
why breath can turn foul.
Preventing Smelly Breath
So what's a kid to do? Don't smoke or use tobacco products, of course. And take
care of your mouth by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a
day. Brush your tongue, too,
because bacteria can grow there. Flossing once a day helps get rid of particles wedged
between your teeth. Also, visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups and
Not only will you get a thorough cleaning, the dentist will look around your mouth
for any potential problems, including those that can affect breath. For example, gum
disease, also known as periodontal (say: per-ee-uh-DON-tul) disease,
can cause bad breath and damage your teeth.
If you're concerned about bad breath, tell your doctor or dentist. But don't be
surprised if he or she leans in and take a big whiff! Smell is one way doctors and
dentists can help figure out what's causing the problem. The way a person's breath
smells can be a clue to what's wrong. For instance, if someone has uncontrolled diabetes, his
or her breath might smell like acetone (the same stuff that's in nail polish remover).
If you have bad breath all the time and the reason can't be determined by your
dentist, he or she may refer you to a doctor to make sure no other medical condition
could be causing it. Sometimes sinus
problems, and rarely liver or kidney
problems, can cause bad breath.
Usually, there's a less complicated reason for bad breath — like what you
had for lunch. So keep up with your brushing and flossing and you should be breathing
easy — and odor free!