Bad Breath in Young Adults

Whilst adults can monitor the oral care of their children and themselves, young adults are often a group that are left to their own devices. Once you hit the age of 18 you are classified as an adult and deemed capable of looking after yourself. With Mum and Dad taking a back seat and many in their late teens and early twenties moving out of the family home, oral hygiene can slip resulting in bad breath problems.

However, with one in ten adults admitting that they regularly forget to brush their teeth(1), perhaps it’s worth the younger generation becoming more aware of the key lifestyle factors that trigger bad breath.

Alcohol

After a night out with friends or after a week of University freshers partying, many young adults notice their breath has a foul odour. When alcohol enters the body, it is not digested in the same way food is. The body recognises alcohol as a toxin and therefore, it is processed by the liver.

However, before the liver has had a chance to get to work on the alcohol, the substance is free to travel around your body via your blood stream(2). This means the alcohol visits the lungs, and this results in the repellent breath many of us have experienced at one point or another(3).

The next day, things can get worse, as consuming a lot of alcohol can dry your mouth out drastically. Bacteria thrives in this environment and when teamed with the non-existent oral hygiene before going to bed, means there is excess food debris lingering which breaks down and releases noxious odours as a result.

The best course of action is to stay well hydrated on a night out and make a point of brushing your teeth as a minimum when you return home, even if you are a little worse for wear!

Poor Nutrition

The diets of many university students consist of packet noodles and takeaway pizzas. Despite knowing that we all need a balanced diet and our recommended five-a-day, convenience, cost and freedom of choice often rule the stomachs of many young adults.

Just like cars, if we aren’t given the correct fuel, we cannot run efficiently, and this can manifest in health problems. One of these issues is halitosis (bad breath). Eating a diet void of essential macro and micronutrients could lead to:

  • Vitamin D deficiency (gum disease leading to bad breath)
  • Vitamin C deficiency (bleeding gums leading to bad breath)
  • Lack of iron (bad breath)

To counteract any bad breath that you fear may be caused by an inadequate diet, you should reintroduce fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Another option is to take supplements, such as an all-round multivitamin.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Although it can seem glaringly obvious, poor oral care is the most common cause of halitosis in young adults. Fortunately, it is one of the easiest issues to fix before more serious issues develop, such as gingivitis(gum disease)

Dental hygiene products can seem expensive to those living away from home for the first time. However, spending a little now can save you large dental bills in the future.

Shockingly, only 31% of adults use mouthwash and less than 25% floss regularly(4); both essential tools needed to keep bad breath at bay. Lack of daily maintenance enables bacteria from food particles to remain in the mouth and on the tongue. These become rotten, resulting in bad breath.

The only true way to eliminate halitosis caused by lack of oral hygiene, is to embrace a new brushing and flossing routine. As a minimum, young adults should be brushing their teeth twice a day and using interdental tape (floss) at least once a day. Utilising an alcohol free oral rinse and interdental brushes are also great steps to ensure your mouth is as clean as possible and free of any bad odour.

Smoking

Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveals that one in every five 18 to 24 year olds is a smoker(5). It is a primary cause of halitosis as well as staining your teeth, reducing your sense of taste and irritating your gums. Some of the damage which smoking can do to your mouth is irreversible and roughly two people in every three mouth cancer cases are smokers(6).

The smell of a freshly smoked cigarette can linger in the lungs for hours, hence the term “smoker’s breath”. However, this isn’t the only reason why smoking causes halitosis. The chemicals from cigarette smoke can remain in the mouth, leading to a range of secondary causes of bad breath, including gum disease.

Kicking the habit is the best solution to combat bad breath and begin returning your mouth to a healthy state.

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