Bad breath

Hey Woodski,

Help! I floss and brush my teeth daily, but I still have bad breath. So embarrassing!!
Halitosis, age 14 (basketball)

Dear Halitosis,

This sounds like more than your basic onion or garlic breath, which is irritating enough. But chronic bad breath can lead to self-consciousness and a serious lack of fun in your life! I’m guessing you’d like to avoid this, so be prepared to do a little sleuthing. There is a culprit and you can find it. Like a detective, you’re going to want track down some easy leads. Look for any physical signs in your mouth of unusual color on your gums or tongue. When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned? Dentists can help rule out anything serious. 

What other physical symptoms are you having? As an example, bad breath along with constipation or skin problems may be an indication of poor gut health. The fix for that is usually to eat (and drink) fewer sugary and processed foods while increasing healthy, fibrous foods like colorful vegetables. Write down all of your symptoms that seem out of the ordinary, even emotional symptoms like irritability or anxiety. Even though it may be embarrassing, talk to your parents. Show them this advice, because this is a good reason to talk to a doctor.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore chronic bad breath. Our body’s signs and symptoms are its way of communicating with us. Our job is to listen and investigate. It may take time to resolve, but it’s worth it for the confidence a fresh mouth will give you.

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The advice offered in this column is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor before making any changes in your diet, exercise or lifestyle choices.
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